Almost in spite of itself, Sky Bergman’s documentary Lives Well Lived manages to rise above its feel-good, potentially glurgey premise. Bergman interviews several people aged between 75 and 100 years old — with a 103-year-old thrown in for good measure — about their secrets to longevity, what they’ve learned along the way, the wisdom they’d like to impart to the Kids These Days, and so on. Only one interviewee goes full-on Get Off My Lawn when he bemoans how “younger people today are so involved with their iPhones, walking around texting” so they don’t see the beauty around them, yadda yadda yadda.
Although most of the interviewees don’t seem to know each other and their stories seldom intersect, a running theme soon becomes apparent: not just having lived through World War II, but having survived concentration camps in Germany or Japanese internment camps in the United States. This helps to give the film a degree of gravitas which belies its “Grandma’s makin’ cookies!” poster art. (It’s Bergman’s own grandmother, but she’s wearing an apron and holding wooden spoons, which is nearly as clichéd as saying that younger people today are on their phones too much.) Despite occasional Hallmark-level sentiments, in its best moments Lives Well Lived is a statement about the value of living memory.
Opens Friday at the Vogue Theater.