×

Four Seasons Lodge

New York Times journalist Andrew Jacobs' surprisingly upbeat docu debut.

With:
With: Hymie Abramowitz, Tosha Abramowitz, Aron Adelman, Basie Adelman, Olga Bowman, Eugenia Boyman, Tobias Buchman, Carl Potok, Cesia Popk, Lola Wenglin.

A bungalow colony where a group of Holocaust survivors congregate every summer, as they have for more than a quarter-century, provides the subject of “Four Seasons Lodge,” New York Times journalist Andrew Jacobs’ surprisingly upbeat docu debut. With the legendary Albert Maysles heading the camera crew, the pic serenely unfolds at the slow and steady pace of its indomitable subjects, ultimately rewarding viewers’ patience as individual personalities and stories emerge amid the threatened sale of the Catskills colony. Pic begins a limited run Wednesday, but its strong appeal to Jewish and/or elderly auds could widen its exposure when televised.

These survivors go into few detail about the camps, though glimpses of tattooed forearms and offhand comments (about Josef Mengele’s experiments or the scarcity of younger survivors because small children were automatically sent to the gas chambers) resonate powerfully. They do speak often of the experience of being “liberated” as youngsters, with their entire families missing or dead and with nowhere to go. In this context, the importance of their seasonal community looms large, the friendships forged there sometimes stronger than their hasty marriages. Their communal past vibrates more intensely than moments shared with children and grandchildren.

But the Holocaust supplies the subtext rather than the text of the docu, which concerns the fragile present, as octogenarians dance to “Cabaret” showtunes or applaud blue jokes by entertainers almost as old as they are. Lodgers can no longer dance until the wee hours or consume countless quarts of booze; infirmity and illness hover, the cries of a woman with Alzheimer’s echoing more distant torments. But, having endured so much, most of them accept the inevitable with grace, determined to wring every possible drop of enjoyment out of their annual get-together.

Another end haunts the film: the impending dissolution of the jointly owned colony. Despite their constant kvetching, even the two founders in charge of maintenance — though tired of the constant demands on their aging bodies (dramatized via a jaunty montage of petulant complaints) — realize their dependence on the regular summer pilgrimage.

Maysles’ camera lingers on the seasonal changes as snow blankets the locked-up colony, itself a remnant of the once-flourishing Borscht Belt whose heyday was so strikingly evoked in Tony Goldwyn’s underrated “Walk on the Moon.” There’s even a traveling merchant who, though hardly resembling Viggo Mortensen, nevertheless charms the ladies with his rousing rendition of “Kinder-Yorn.”

Popular on Variety

Four Seasons Lodge

English, Yiddish, Polish dialogue

Production: A First Run Features release of a Four Seasons Project production in association with Rainlake Prods. Produced by Matt Lavine, Andrew Jacobs. Executive producer, Kelly Sheehan. Co-producers, Roger Bennett, Rhoda Herrick, Elyssa Hess.

Crew: Directed by Andrew Jacobs. Written by Kim Connell, Jacobs. Camera (color, HD), Albert Maysles, Andrew Federman, Avi Kastoriano, Justin Schein; editors, Connell, Aaron Soffin; music, Eric Lewis; sound, Todd Dayton. Reviewed on DVD, New York, Nov. 6, 2009. (In 2008 SilverDocs, Hamptons, Mill Valley film festivals.) Running time: 99 MIN.

With: With: Hymie Abramowitz, Tosha Abramowitz, Aron Adelman, Basie Adelman, Olga Bowman, Eugenia Boyman, Tobias Buchman, Carl Potok, Cesia Popk, Lola Wenglin.

More Film

  • 45 Seconds of Laughter

    Film Review: '45 Seconds of Laughter'

    “Everyone is worth more than their worst act,” said Roman Catholic sister and anti-death penalty advocate Helen Prejean, and it’s with these words that “45 Seconds of Laughter” closes. It’s an apt sentiment on which to leave Tim Robbins’ sincerely felt documentary study of the therapeutic acting workshops run by his own theater company in [...]

  • Julie Andrews

    Julie Andrews Selected for AFI's Life Achievement Award

    The American Film Institute Board of Trustees has selected Julie Andrews as the recipient of the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award. The award will be presented to Andrews on April 25 in Los Angeles. The ceremony will be telecast on TNT. “Julie Andrews is practically perfect in every way,” said Kathleen Kennedy, chair of the [...]

  • 4127_D001_00007_RC Phyllis Logan stars as Mrs.

    'Downton Abbey' to Dominate Box Office Weekend With $30 Million

    The feature film version of “Downton Abbey” is heading for an impressive $30 million opening weekend at 3,079 sites for an easy victory at the North American box office, early estimates showed Friday. The launch of Brad Pitt’s space drama “Ad Astra” will land in second with about $20 million, while Sylvester Stallone’s action-thriller “Rambo: [...]

  • BETWEEN TWO FERNS, 2019, PH_0027.RAF

    Film Review: 'Between Two Ferns: The Movie'

    If you’re a fan of “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis,” the fake public-access talk show that Zach Galifianakis has been hosting online, for three to six minutes a pop, over the last 10 years, then you’ll probably like “Between Two Ferns: The Movie,” the snark-lite 82-minute road movie that Galifianakis and his director and [...]

  • The Irishman

    Martin Scorsese, Frances McDormand, Donald Sutherland Join Lineup of France's Lumiere Festival

    Martin Scorsese’s eagerly awaited Netflix movie “The Irishman” wasn’t completed on time to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival, but Thierry Fremaux, Cannes’s topper, managed to pin down the high-profile movie and Scorsese himself for the upcoming Lumiere festival in Lyon next month. Dedicated to heritage movies, the Lumiere festival was created 10 years [...]

  • 'Aladdin' Star Mena Massoud Calls for

    'Aladdin' Star Mena Massoud Calls for a Broader Diversity of Storytelling in Movies and TV

    The star of “Aladdin,” Egyptian-Canadian actor Mena Massoud, called for a greater diversity of storytelling in movies and television when he spoke at the glamorous opening ceremony Thursday of the 3rd edition of Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival. Massoud, whose credits include Amazon’s “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” and Hulu’s “Reprisal,” lauded “the power of art” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content