Movie Review By Monica Sullivan
According to director Michael Apted, the series which began with "7 UP" in 1964 & continues with its sixth installment, "42 UP," "is the most important thing he's done ever or will do. "He s absolutely right about that & "42 UP" just may be the richest of the series to date. Contrary to what episodic television may lead viewers to believe, the age of 42 may actually launch "The Best Years of Our Lives," as it did for Myrna Loy's character in the classic William Wyler film of 1946. Of the fourteen original subjects, a dozen are still participating as, well as their spouses & children. Two of the aristocratic male subjects who appeared in several of the earlier films seemed to regard the periodic self examination as a curse & dropped out years ago. Those who chose to stick it out clearly relish the experience & their affection for both the project & for director Apted is obvious.
The most significant development since "35 UP" is that the most troubled of the male subjects has undergone a miraculous transformation. When last seen, he looked as if he were overdue for an early demise. Happily, that didn't happen & one of the reasons has a great deal to do with why this series is special in so many ways. I suspect that the seven-year-old youngsters of 1964 would be proud and pleased at the adults they grew up to be. This is not to suggest that everyone's life is idyllic or that all are blessed with splendid health. All, however, are comforted by the realization that they did the best they could with the respective circumstances of their very different lives. One self-conscious seven-year-old is borderline insufferable as he charts his future helping those less fortunate than himself. By 42, his untested idealism has become intrinsic and real. His altruism is not a faraway vision, it has become the deepest part of his personality. Three seven-year-old girlfriends are still friends at 42. The scrutiny of Apted's documentaries has indeed changed their lives, but it has not exploited them. The dozen men & women who voluntarily reveal their lives to strangers all over the world share a candor, grace & sense of accountability that gives "42 UP" its power to rivet us in the year 2000, even if you somehow missed every prior installment.
© 2000 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 1/12/00
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