“Calendar Girls” is a documentary about the Calendar Girls of Southwest Florida a group of 30 or so senior ladies that perform cheesy dance numbers in bingo halls, seniors’ residences and local parades raising money for charities. They give between 100-130 performances each year. What they lack in professionalism they compensate for in spirit. Old birds bogeying to Backstreet Boys music is either very sad and disturbing or inspiring. There is a bit of both in this documentary. It might seem embarrassing and sad to many viewers but at the end of the day the Calendar Girls are enjoying themselves and are appreciated by their audiences and that is what counts.
Research has indicated those retiring without any structure in their lives live less longer than busy retirees with a sense of purpose and structure. However gaudy and amateur these ladies are they power on giving them a sense of community.
One feels like a judgemental jerk feeling a bit of sadness and disgust watching the flame of youth long extinguished and embarrassing itself in silliness but put the judgement aside and admire those ladies finding a structure and purpose to their lives and if it looks so foolish so be it. What matters is the sense of purpose it gives them.
While their dancing may border on the absurd perhaps more germane is the documentary’s exploration of ageing, sexism, mortality, sense of community and failing health.
The viewer’s judgment here is irrelevant as the Calendar Girls are the Calendar Girls and they are hurting no one except for violating a sense of good taste. Leave them alone and grimace as they dance to Backstreet Boys!
You can see the trailer here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWzJb9aBLZg&t=1s
The doc has made its rounds on the documentary festival circuit hitting over 40 of them including Sundance. It no doubt will be available on VOD soon. Directed and produced by Maria Loohufvud and Love Martinsen.
A great deal of tension in the film between absurdity and American excess with a search for the meaning of life and purpose.
RKS Film Rating 74/100.