You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Personals: Improvisations on Romance in the Golden Years

A sweet snapshot of America's elderly, "The Personals: Improvisations on Romance in the Golden Years" is a delicate look at loneliness and the life lessons collected by a group of energetic senior citizens.

A sweet snapshot of America’s elderly, “The Personals: Improvisations on Romance in the Golden Years” is a delicate look at loneliness and the life lessons collected by a group of energetic senior citizens. Having just nabbed this year’s Academy Award for documentary short subject, Japanese director Keiko Ibi’s film makes its TV debut on the HBO Signature multiplex channel as a Double Exposure presentation. Subsequent playdates will give subscribers a chance to catch up with the pic, which has already screened at fests across the country.

A nonfiction, no-frills cross between “Cocoon” and “The Joy of Sex,” Ibi’s take on sensuality among the aged, filmed as her NYU graduate thesis, stands out because of its simplicity: These humble, tired individuals are pining for a gentle touch, a meaningful hug or just some deserved attention. “Personals” will go a long way in convincing viewers that their parents and grandparents aren’t passionless relatives who live only for knitting and soft-boiled eggs.

Narrative features a mostly Jewish bunch from Manhattan’s Lower East Side who are members of the Alliance Stage acting company at a local community center. With the guidance of Seth Glassman, the thesps have decided to put on a play based on their own fictitious personal ads. Throughout the weeks of preparation, Ibi intercuts between rehearsals and home-based interviews while revealing the participants’ true feelings about commitment, devotion and sex.

While these folks are no threat to Lemmon and Matthau, there’s humor, honesty and sadness in everyone’s enthusiasm, and their eagerness is contagious. Honorable mentions go to 82-year-old Harold Gordon, whose spunk could rival that of any younger playboy, and Selma Wernick, a woman who’s not embarrassed to admit that she needs someone to hold her.

Despite its inherent likability, “Personals” lacks tonal consistency. While the soul-searching wisdom of 12 people is certainly enough on which to base a docu, there’s too much going on: Within the brief running time, Harold has surgery, the program’s funding runs out and Selma eyes a new career as an actress — it’s all a bit jumpy.

But nothing can take away from the genuine emotion on display. “Personals” gives a rarely heard generation the opportunity to speak about first loves and burning flames, and in that respect, it hits the mark squarely.

Tech credits are good, with Ibi and Milton Ginsberg’s smooth-cut editing standing out.

The Personals: Improvisations on Romance in the Golden Years

HBO Signature; Sun. April 25; 8 p.m.

Production: Filmed in New York City by Keiko Ibi. Producer, director, Ibi.

Crew: Camera, Greg Pak; editors, Ibi, Milton Ginsberg; music, John Califra; sound, Dan Klein. Running time: 45 MINS.

More TV

  • Kenan Thompson

    NBC Orders Comedy Pilots 'Saving Kenan' and 'Like Magic'

    NBC has ordered comedies “Saving Kenan” and “Like Magic” to pilot. “Saving Kenan” is a single-camera comedy starring “Saturday Night Live” veteran Kenan Thompson as a “newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives.” Jackie Clarke will serve as writer and [...]

  • The First -- "The Choice" -

    'The First' Canceled at Hulu After One Season

    Hulu has grounded the space exploration drama “The First” after one season, Variety has confirmed. The series hailed from Beau Willimon and starred Sean Penn and Natascha McElhone in Penn’s first regular television role. “The First” was set in the near future and followed the first human mission to Mars. Hulu gave the show a straight-to-series order in [...]

  • Nicole Maines Supergirl Trans Hollywood Portrait

    TV Roundup: 'Supergirl' Drops First Look at Nicole Maines as TV's First Trans Superhero

    In today’s TV News Roundup, The CW releases a first look at Nicole Maines on “Supergirl” and Variety unveils an exclusive look at Gabriel Iglesias’ new comedy special.  FIRST LOOKS truTV has released the first trailer for season 2 of Emmy-nominated series “At Home with Amy Sedaris.” The variety sketch comedy returns Tuesday, Feb. 19 at [...]

  • The Beatles Eight Days a Week

    Imagine's Documentary Arm Sets First-Look Pact With Apple (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries has set a first-look pact with Apple to develop non-fiction features and series. The deal comes as Imagine is investing heavily in the premium non-fiction arena. The company in June recruited RadicalMedia veteran Justin Wilkes to head Imagine Documentaries as president. The deal suggests that Apple sees docu [...]

  • Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most

    Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most Outrageous Moments

    It is perhaps only fitting that two documentaries about the disastrous Fyre Festival, one of the most high-profile fraudulent failures in history, would arrive during the same week — a fitting cap on a tragicomedy of errors that, as both films outline in excruciating detail, unfolded like a slow-motion plane crash in the spring of [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Unveils Financial Data for DTC Unit, Sets April 11 for Investor Presentation

    Disney has rejiggered its business segments for earnings reporting to make room for the new unit housing its global streaming operations. Disney on Friday released restated earnings for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016 to give investors and financial analysts better visibility into its spending on the launch of the Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and other [...]

  • annapurna logo

    Annapurna TV Taps Amazon's Patrick Chu as Senior VP, Promotes Ali Krug

    Annapurna TV has brought on Patrick Chu as the division’s new senior VP. Prior to that, he had served as an executive for Amazon in drama, production, and development, where he oversaw small-screen adaptations of “Hanna” and “The Hunt.” He will develop and produce new TV projects, focusing on drama, at his new role at [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content