Sky Bergman’s documentary “Lives Well Lived” — offering positive snapshots of a variety of functioning, happy seniors — is less a film than an upbeat birthday video, which isn’t surprising given the project was inspired by Bergman’s perky, ever-smiling, Italian Bronx grandmother Evelyn turning 100, and showing no signs of slowing down.
The subtitle is “Celebrating the Secrets, Wit and Wisdom of Age,” which again suggests less a movie than, in this case, a positivity tract for anyone who needs their dismissive attitude about the elderly reconfigured. The interstitial talking-head responses to generically posed questions produce unsurprising tips for longevity — stay curious, have passions, goals and friends, be yourself, take chances (or, conversely, ease up a bit) — which leaves the individual stories, augmented by photos and music cues, to get the most traction emotionally.
There are compelling hardship tales (a Japanese American nonagenarian’s World War II internment saga, a married couple who met in San Francisco and learned they were both saved by Britain’s Kindertransport rescue program as children). There are also plenty of gently affirming instances of new skills learned, evergreen joys continued and dreams still nurtured. “Lives Well Lived” isn’t exactly artful moviemaking, but it’s a heartfelt reminder that for many, age is just a number.
‘Lives Well Lived’
Running time: 1 hour, 12 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino; Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena