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BOYNTON BEACH CLUB

SYNOPSIS:
Marilyn (Brenda Vaccaro)'s world comes tumbling down when her beloved husband is killed in a car accident. Angry and alone, she goes to the local bereavement club in Boynton Beach, Florida, where the locals offer each other emotional support after having lost a loved one. She makes friends with Lois (Dyan Cannon), a caring but flirtatious neighbour, who has just begun a relationship with Donald (Michael Nouri). Jack (Len Cariou), who recently lost his wife, reluctantly responds to Sandy (Sally Kellerman), but finds the pressures of dating so soon after his wife's death rather overwhelming. Meanwhile, Harry (Joseph Bologna), starts online chatting in search for female company with unexpected results. And all of them are trying to put their best front forward, even if it isn't always the real one.

Review by Louise Keller:
From casseroles and tears to new beginnings, Boynton Beach Club is a lively and upbeat story of friendship and love when the dating game has skipped a generation. To the familiar strains of 'Love and Marriage' we are introduced to the residents of Boynton Beach, who may be part of the retirement community, but still have a keen zest for life and love. The central theme of bereavement is a complicated one and it is credit to writer director Susan Seidelman (Desperately Seeking Susan) that the tone stays comfortably light while retaining the required sensitivity. It's life affirming, amusing and touching, as relationships struggle and blossom, while friendships form a rock-solid boost to newly imposed loneliness.

In an age where 60 is the new 50, we meet a group of active, lively and virile adults who are experiencing their own difficult and often clumsy version of dating for the first time. Although there's a trite sequence in which Len Cariou's Jack experiences an embarrassing situation at the local pharmacy when purchasing erectile tablets and condoms, most of the situations are far more subtle. Lois (Dyan Cannon) plays it cool, but uses all her feminine wiles to get real-estate developer Donald (Michael Nouri) to ask her out. Her expectations of Donald and their relationship form some of the most touching parts of the film, as are Jack's attempts to meet the expectations of complex Sandy (Sally Kellerman), while reconciling with his own feelings and those of his daughter and granddaughter. Finding peace with herself is the challenge that Brenda Vaccaro's Marilyn faces as she struggles with her anger. It's age that Harry (Joseph Bologna) is struggling with and when he meets Florence online, is quick to lie about his age and dye his hair in a bid to match the 20 year old photograph he has sent her.

Seidelman concentrates on the relationships between the characters and has gathered a great cast, who wholeheartedly throw themselves into their roles. They are all so believable in such different ways. Cannon is wonderful as the super-thin, super-tanned widow; Kellerman wears Sandy's insecurity like a glove; Vaccaro's Marilyn is as homely as apple pie. Targeted at the older set, Seidelman's film seems to celebrate the mature age of her characters as they find new paths and directions and learn that there's more to learn even when you think you know it all.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The neatly manicured Boynton Beach neighbourhood in Florida is outwardly serene, like a giant, outdoor funeral parlour. But behind the doors of these all-too-neat homes are the messy lives of people whose insecurities and needs have been exposed by a loss of a life-long partner. It's a daily issue for millions of us human beings, and one that often gets buried in either maudlin or farcical films. Susan Seidelman (basing the work on her mother's experiences at a similar bereavement club) has rescued the subject with a film that is both touching and funny, although she could have injected a bit more dramatic tension with a robust plot.

The film explores threads of three relationships which start up at the Boynton Beach Bereavement Club, a place for widows and widowers in the community who need some support. Seidleman's greatest asset is her cast, all of them splendid craftspeople who create credible characters who engage us and make us take interest in their plight - and their late-life flirtations, seductions and worries. All of them are excellent, although Dyan Cannon's superb performance is often smudged by the distraction of her extensive plastic surgery that makes her face a subject of fascination.

Sally Kellerman (Hot Lips from MASH) injects pathos and melancholy into her fragile yet determined Sandy, and Brenda Vaccaro is a jug of vulnerability. The men are great, too, with Joseph Bologna balancing vanity with decency and Len Cariou a nicely understated new widower who has to be dragged out of his mourning.

Without a taut tension line, the film sags in the middle, but the valid observations and endearing performances of flawed characters in search of sunset happiness is a welcome escape from the harsher films of the day.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

SUSAN SEIDELMAN INTERVIEW

BOYNTON BEACH CLUB (M)
(US, 2005)

CAST: Joseph Bologna, Dyan Cannon, Len Cariou, Sally Kellerman, Michael Nouri, Brenda Vaccaro, Renee Taylor, Mal Z. Lawrence

PRODUCER: Susan Seidelman, Florence Seidelman

DIRECTOR: Susan Seidleman

SCRIPT: Susan Seidleman, Shelly Gitlow

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Eric Moynier

EDITOR: Kieko Deguchi

MUSIC: Marcelo Zarvos

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Kevin Kropp

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hopscotch

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 23, 2007







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