If you saw "Amour," the Oscar-winning film about aging, and left the film with the thought that getting old stinks, wait until you see "Kings Point," (9 tonight HBO), an Oscar nominee for best documentary short.
They are companion pieces. "Amour" gave a pull-no-punches look at failing health and caregiving. "Kings Point" looks at life in a retirement resort. Unlike other recent explorations of elderly complexes, this film isn't about how all the men are players (because the women are plentiful and the men aren't), although there's some of that. This film deals with the emotional difficulties of being alive when death lingers like a shadow.
Kings Point is a community in Florida that drew many from the Northeast during the 70s; at an affordable price, retired couples could get a piece of 'paradise.' But years later, some of those retirees have lost their spouses and their health has declined. Everything has changed. "Kings Point" focuses on five seniors in particular.
The film, just under 40 minutes, is saturated with loneliness. Widows and widowers want to find love again; others don't believe love at this age is possible, but they long for something like it anyway. Romantics relationships aren't the only ones lacking; friendships are superficial. No one wants to get too close because losing someone to death (again) is too difficult.
Going home to stay with children isn't much of an option either. If the kids aren't reluctant, they just have their own lives. And the seniors still have lives they want to live too.
One of the most moving stories in "Kings Point" is the friendship of Frank and Bea. Frank is upfront; he won't get romantically involved with Bea. Bea understands, but her silence on the matter is clearly laced with sorrow. Frank's position seems cruel because they act as a couple, spending New Year's Eve together, kissing (on the cheek) at midnight. The fullness of their story is told and it's devastating.
"Kings Point" shows that aging isn't easy, but it's partly because we, as a culture, have made it difficult. Our fear of death, our reluctance to age, our disdain of the elderly -- we've created the emptiness at the core of a Kings Point. Death can come before the end of life. Perhaps "Kings Point" can start a conversation and lead to some action.