Boynton Beach Club: Seidelman’s Romantic Comedy of Love at Old Age

Palm Sorings Film Fest 2006–Based on the experiences of director Susan Seidelmans mother Florence (who co-wrote the script with her daughter) at an active adult community, “The Boynton Beach Club” is a broadly conceived, uplifting romantic comedy about the amazing capacity to rebound and fall in love at an older age.

Recently widowed Marilyn (Brenda Vaccaro), still reeling over the sudden death of her husband, finds an unexpected new circle of friends when she accepts an invitation to join the Boynton Beach Bereavement Club. While not ready to embark on a relationship herself, she is amused to realize that many of her contemporaries are actively looking for love. Lois (Dyan Cannon) is being courted by a younger man (Michael Nouri), while Harry (Joseph Bologna) tries internet dating and encourages his friend Jack (Len Cariou) to pursue a romance with the mysterious Sandy (Sally Kellerman).

“The Boynton Beach Club” wants to prove that 60 is the new 40, to borrow a phrase from TV’s “Sex and the City,” and that one is never too old to fall in love. I saw the movie at the Palm Springs Film Fest, surrounded by a largely elderly crowd (really senior citizens) that seemed to have good time throughout the event.

While it was good to see vet gifted actors, such as Dyan Cannon (Heaven Can Wait, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice), Sally Kellerman (MASH), Brenda Vaccaro (Jacqueline Susannes Once is Not Enough) and Joseph Bologna (winner of Best Adapted Screenplay for the 1970 Lovers and Other Strangers) as well as Michael Nouri (Flashdance, TVs The O.C.) and Len Cariou (Flags of Our Fathers, TVs Brotherhood), on stage, I wish they appeared in a better vehicle than this schmaltzy, sort of television movie of the week. And while I can’t support such work from a strictly filmic POV, I realize there’s room for such inspirational “slice of life” pictures that cater to older crowds who can relate to and even empathize with the protags on screen.

Twenty five years ago, Susan Seidelman was at the forefront of the New American Independent Cinema, with provocative features such as “Smithereens” (the first U.S. indie to be shown at Cannes Fest), and slightly feminist comedies like “Desperately Seeking Susan” and “Making Mr. Right.” Over the past decade or so, she has mostly been working on episodic TV (“Sex and the City”), which might ay something about the position of women filmmakers in Hollywood.