5 December 2013 | OJT
Full of life and optimism in forced drama
In "The optimists" we meet 15 old ladies in the range from 66 to 98 from the Norwegian town of Hamar. They gather for diverse gymnastics and sporty events like bicycling, skiing and volleyball. they have been training volleyball for 30 years, but haven't really had to learn the rules before now, when they are to play their first match ever, against Swedish male pensioners in Sollentuna.
This film is made and photographed by the daughter of one of these pensioners, and the film is a heart-warm and quite funny feel good film about pensioners keeping their friendship, more than about volleyball. As a portrait of how these pensioners get along and train to keep in good health this is very good. What I don't like, is that the match and the rehearsals up to the trip to Sweeden feels too forced. It's too obvious that the film maker has both had the idea of the match, the trip and getting National coaches to train them before the match. Also the big event in Sollentuna is way too forced for my taste. If you are able to see through that, you'll have a nice time in front of the screen.
Getting to know these ladies in their autumn of life is still quite a blessing. The most interesting thing is that we get to know several of them, and what they do and struggle with in every day situations. Illness, cancer and back problems are all present. Great also is the laughter and to see how childishly young they are in spite of their age.
In some ways this resembles and is in the same genre as "Heftig og begeistret" ("Cool and crazy") about the old mans choir from Berlevåg which was an enormous success back in 2001. I'm sorry to say this though isn't close to this in filming quality, but it has the same feel good vibration. This also scores in the focus on their everyday life, which is more focused here than in the movie about the mens choir. The film is best suited for elders and those working with them, but can also be a charming watch for others. The film won the audience award called "Gledessprederen" at the Norwegain International Film Festival in Haugesund in August 2013, just after the teams oldest, Goro, died.