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Aging in Style — Provincetown Film Fest Flicks Show Us How, An Essay

June Squibb and Fred Hechinger in a scene from “Thelma.” (Magnolia Pictures)
Written by Laura M. Reckford

PROVINCETOWN – My mother died a few years ago and ever since, I have been thinking I am next. Once the generation above goes, the clock starts ticking on the next group and I’m in it. So it was with great joy that I saw three movies at the Provincetown International Film Festival earlier this month that celebrated aging.

June Squibb and Fred Hechinger in a scene from “Thelma.” (Magnolia Pictures)

June Squibb and Fred Hechinger in a scene from “Thelma.” (Magnolia Pictures)

First was “Thelma” (now playing everywhere, including Cape Cinema and even the Cape Cod Mall!), a sort of Mad Max on Geritol. I was on the edge of my seat, despite the fact that the chase scene was led by a 93-year-old lady on a scooter.

Basically, this is a romp in which our nonagenarian heroine, Thelma Post played by June Squibb, is a spitfire who doesn’t take crap from anyone.

The journey that this movie brings us along on is as unlikely as it is entertaining. How is a 90-plus-year-old lady supposed to get across town to avenge an internet scam without access to a car? Thelma finds a way.

From the new documentary, "LIZA: A Truly Terrific Absolutely True Story"

From the new documentary, “LIZA: A Truly Terrific Absolutely True Story”

When her friend (played by Richard Roundtree, in his final film role), the owner of the bad ass cherry red scooter, won’t lend it to her, she takes it anyway, literally breaking out of the senior facility where he lives. So there!

A rally call to my older friends: We have agency (even though society pretty much ignores us). We may be invisible but we’re still here, dammit!

One of the most touching parts of the film is the relationship between Thelma and her grandson played by Fred Hechinger. The relationship rings true.

(I remember trying to teach my mother how to use a computer. “This thing has a mind of its own,” she would say, thus predicting AI.)

A very satisfying part of this flick is that it offers proper payoffs throughout. This is a very tight screenplay with a lot of humor, poignancy, and, yes, suspense. Kudos to writer/director Josh Margolin.

Stop reading here if you are worried about spoilers: The gun–pays off. The roach–pays off. The opening scene where the grandson is teaching his grandmother how to use the computer–pays off big.

From the new documentary, "Diane von Fustenberg: Woman in Charge,'

From the new documentary, “Diane von Fustenberg: Woman in Charge,’

This movie won the audience award for best narrative feature at the Provincetown International Film Festival–so don’t take my word for it–there was an entire audience that thought it was boffo!

The other two films I saw, both documentaries, “LIZA: A Truly Terrific Absolutely True Story” and “Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge,’ were excellent. While the two women at the heart of these films may not have much in common besides fame, they are both hotshot ladies for sure.

Both are now in their senior years after incredible lives and careers. You may think of them as having lived charmed lives but both, as the documentaries show, withstood some challenging issues with their backgrounds and upbringing (mother issues mostly).

Tatiana von Furstenberg at the Provincetown International Film Festival CAPE COD WAVE PHOTO

Tatiana von Furstenberg at the Provincetown International Film Festival in June 2024.

There is something immensely fulfilling in seeing women who are so talented achieving great things. Also, these are both very well-researched celebrity documentaries, giving you all the historic clips you are dying to see.

After the Diane von Furstenberg screening, her daughter Tatiana sat for a post-film chat with Provincetown Film Society Executive Director Anne Hubbell. It seemed clear from Tatiana’s comments that Diane was not as great a mother as she was a designer and world conqueror.

Tatiana said, growing up as she did surrounded by models and other beautiful people, she is not comfortable in front of the camera. When her mother asked her to participate in the documentary, Tatiana told her, “You can have this or a eulogy–not both.” Diane chose the documentary, because she would be alive to see it.

Again, embracing life for all it may bring. Like Thelma, Liza and Diane. Like my mother. And I hope, like me.

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About the author

Laura M. Reckford

Laura M. Reckford is co-founder of Cape Cod Wave. She has been a reporter and editor on Cape Cod for more than 20 years in magazines, newspapers and radio. She has also authored numerous Frommer's Travel Guide editions on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

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