The Time of Their Lives and Bye Bye C’est Fini are sure to please lovers of happy endings, whether mortality freaks them out or not. The former follows three British women, all in their early 100s, who continue to lead lives of political and social action despite their residencies in the Mary Feilding Guild, an old-folks’ home. Hetty steals the show as the 102-year-old peace activist who still walks the walk when she leaves to march at a peace rally.
Bye Bye C’est Fini follows Lina Merceis, a 73-year-old (“soon to be 74,” she says frequently) seductress who lives in Rio de Janeiro and continues to entertain a slate of 30-something lovers long after many women her age have resigned themselves to celibacy. Merceis is as much an anomaly as the brilliant Hetty: savvy, seductive, and sheathed in a body that refuses to age.
The real standout in this selection is The Way We Get By, which follows Bill Knight, Joan Gaudet, and Jerry Mundy, three retired residents of Bangor, Maine, who have met every incoming flight from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003. This one will leave you breathless: The scene in which a gangly, just-out-of-high-school private breaks out of line to wrap his arms around Joan and weep on her shoulder; the shots of Bill’s farmhouse, which is nearly unlivable from years of neglect following his wife’s death; a shellshocked soldier’s confession that an empty airport would only “add to the confusion” of having been in Iraq. Even viewers with a primal hatred for proponents of the military will find themselves crying over Bill’s answer when the producer asks him about greeting the troops. Blinking away tears, he says, “I’ve outlived my usefulness. My life doesn’t mean much to me, but if I can make it mean something to somebody else, that’s a worthy endeavor.”
Bye Bye C’est Fini
At 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, June 16, at AFI Silver Theatre; also on Thursday, June 18, at 7 p.m. at Discovery HD Theater
The Time of Their Lives
At 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 17, at AFI Silver Theatre; also on Saturday, June 20, at 2:15 p.m. at Discovery HD Theater
The Way We Get By
At 2:15 p.m. on Friday, June 19; also at 12:45 p.m. on Sunday, June 21, at AFI Silver Theatre