The sprawling expanse of flat emptiness in central Florida is an unlikely place for America’s fastest growing metro area in the nation. Yet, just 70 miles northwest of Orlando sits ‘The Villages’ – the world’s largest retirement community that surpasses the size of Manhattan and encompasses five zip codes with an ever-growing population.
Spanning 32-square-miles, The Villages is a veritable boom-town for baby boomers aged 55+ who flock to the geriatric paradise in droves for its endless margarita mixers (happy hour starts at 11am), unlimited golf courses (50, to be exact), and notorious for its laissez-fair attitude towards sex, thriving swingers scene, and controversial politics.
‘I’m just saying for me, it hasn’t been the fantasy land I thought it would be, for reasons that are true to my own,’ said Barbara Lochiatto, a widow from Boston who has lived in The Villages for 12-years and longs to return to her hometown but can no longer afford to do so.
Barbara is just one of 130,000 residents lured to The Villages for the opportunity to live out her golden years on permanent vacation. It’s dubbed ‘the Disneyland for seniors’ for obvious reasons: the grass is always green, the sidewalks are immaculate, crime is almost non-existent, and the faux-coastal landscape is framed by palm trees and tangerine sunsets.
For many, The Villages are a Utopian fantasyland. Giant swathes of ready-made track homes and manicured lawns dot the pre-fab neighborhoods in Stepford-like uniformity. An elusive billionaire family lords over the master planned community that boasts 100 recreation centers, 89 swimming pools, 11 dog parks, one polo-field, 14 grocery stores, 2,700 social clubs (from bingo to hot-air ballooning to golf cart drill team) and even its own radio station, newspaper and television channels.
But for others, life inside the squeaky-clean bubble is far from idyllic. Herein is the focus of Some Kind of Heaven, a debut documentary by 24-year-old filmmaker, Lance Oppenheim who peels back the gated community’s artificial veneer by following the tribulations of four different seniors who live on the fringes of The Villages mainstream.
‘I was looking for people who were on the margins, who didn’t exist inside of the same marketing brochure that everyone else did,’ he told Vox. In doing so, Oppenheim reveals the dark undercurrent of loneliness, willful ignorance, intolerance, and insularity beneath sheen of ‘America’s friendliest hometown.’
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Source: Daily Mail