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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Lifestyle: Swinging in America
The Lifestyle: Swinging in America
Wellspring
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Gil Jawetz | posted April 30, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
It's a little tough to review The Lifestyle: Swinging in America since I went blind about ten minutes in. Ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but only a bit. The Lifestyle is an uncensored look behind the white picket fences of some of the strangest folks in our great land. The swingers profiled here are mostly over 60, fat, craggy, and only attractive in an all-of-god's-creatures sort of way, and even then not quite. While they may not look out of place in sock garters and sun visors putting around the yogurt shop at the local food court, what these grandpas and grandmas really like is sex, any way they can get it: Group sex, gang bangs (or marathons as they call it), sex toys, role-playing, bisexuality, spouse-swapping, and, of course, lots of hot tubs.

The Lifestyle offers a very intimate look at this phenomenon, which is something that the participants say would blow the minds of their children if they knew. However, the film does offer some slight criticism from a younger couple who found their relationship strained by their participation in the lifestyle. What it doesn't provide is real depth. Serious issues are touched on but then quickly steered around: What repression in their own lives are these septuagenarians reacting to? How did the one young woman interviewed ever manage to overcome the massive age difference between her and the men she was with? How many of these women are coerced into the lifestyle by their husbands and convince themselves that they like it? What's up with a racist statement made early on? And why doesn't anyone go on a damn diet?

The best way to watch The Lifestyle is as something of a comedy mixed with horror. Moments abound that can cause the sturdiest viewer to take pause. Talking heads quickly cut to montages of down-right nastiness (or "sport-fucking" as one particularly dirty old man calls it). The ultimate irony of the interviewees in The Lifestyle is that, while they hope to inspire the public to join them in their sexcapades they are far more likely to cause viewers to swear off sex entirely.

VIDEO:
The video is widescreen. The transfer looks good. The film consists mostly of interviews and is shot pretty unimaginatively.

AUDIO:
The audio is stereo and is fine. Nothing really to demanding.

EXTRAS:
An additional 45 minutes of footage is included, although what made the final cut is plenty, in my opinion. I should note that the running time listed for the film (121 minutes) includes this extra footage, as the actual film is well under 90 minutes long.

Weblinks, production notes, and other information is also included.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
The Lifestyle is an interesting film on a ridiculous topic that is probably best not watched alone. There are plenty of cringe-inducing moments and even some worthy of a scream. It also raises the question "What's wrong with old people and are they all this crazy?" Maybe one day we'll all find out.

Gil Jawetz is a graphic designer, video director, and t-shirt designer. He lives in Brooklyn.

E-mail Gil at buskerdog@yahoo.com
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