This bittersweet portrait of five couples who have been married more than 50 years is a touching but superficial look at the dynamics of marriage and aging.
Filmmaker David Collier interviews couples, who are mostly in their late 70s and 80s, about everything from the secrets of a long marriage to the intimacies of their sex lives.
Dan and Sophie Trupin, married 60 years, met at the bridge table. “He was a lousy bridge player,” Sophie remarks as the couple go on to describe their often contentious but apparently satisfying married life, which still includes regular shouting sessions loud enough to disturb the neighbors.
Paul and Inez Jones met 57 years ago in an after-hours club where she was a singer and he was a musician. “It was love at first sight,” says Paul, who was struck by his future wife’s honesty. Their marriage survived the tragic loss of two sons, which brought them even closer together.
Chet and Vi Loucks, married 67 years, air some longstanding grievances, when Chet gently complains that his wife seemed never to truly enjoy sex, but only did it to make him happy. Vi responds that women just don’t like sex as much as men do.
Gay couple Bruhs Maro and Gean Harwood have been together for 60 years, most of it spent hiding their relationship from the world. When they finally came out in the 1980s, they were honored as grand marshals in New York’s Gay Pride Parade and heralded, according to Gean, as the “oldest gay couple in America.”
Howard and Cecil Waite, married for 58 years, confess that they were totally naive when they met. That naivete led to Cecil’s pregnancy and a shotgun wedding after a romantic drive in the Hollywood Hills.
While there are clearly joys in the lives and relationships of these elderly couples, they are all acutely aware of the very short time left to them, and are afraid of what the future holds.
Bruhs Maro has been institutionalized with Alzheimer’s disease, and several of the other couples are ill or infirm. Losing their companion is a frightening prospect for all of them.
While there are some interesting vignettes in this film, the overall impact is superficial and sentimental. Filmmaker Collier lingers on the sorrow of individuals facing the loss of a loved one and on the couples’ nostalgia as they look back, but tells viewers little about other, more hopeful facets of their lives.
Many of his subjects are not particularly likable people, which is surprising since they were culled from interviews with more than 200 people. With the exception of the musicians Paul and Inez Jones, very little is revealed about the rich lives that these people led — only some of the more mundane details of their relationships.