In today's society, people are working longer just to be able to retire. Some older workers are finding themselves forced out of a job while the company brings in younger, cheaper labor or sends the work overseas. Insurance costs continue to increase and so do other costs of living. "Open Road", which originally aired on PBS, takes a look at the transition for people who find themselves retiring - whether they choose to or not - at a later age, and then asking, "what next?"
Finding examples in Washington Post reporter Bob Levey, a taxi driver, a machine operator, a government employee and others, we hear about the tension and anxiety that accompany the transition from an everyday job to waking up in the morning without any real structure. While people who can comfortably retire these days are lucky, it's interesting to get into the minds of professionals like Levey, who doesn't really want to retire. Levey liked his job, and had planned to work until 70 - to him, retirement meant that it was all over, not that a new stage of life was beginning.
The stories that these people share are funny, moving and always interesting. Some people find that they use this time to see the country (one husband notes that Hawaii is the only state his wife hasn't been to and that he'll take her there "when they build the bridge.") Other people use their new free time in order to volunteer in non-profit sectors of the industry that they were once a part of and others do projects they didn't have time for previously. As for the non-profit folks, a segment of the documentary is devoted to the fact that this population is still such a wonderful resource, and can provide such a benefit to certain areas of our workplace/marketplace if utilized right.
The second half of the documentary looks at the harsh realities that many retirees face when they find themselves leaving the workforce. One retiree talks about age descrimination when trying to get a job at a retail chain, eventually being offered a job - but at $2 less an hour than a teenager from down the street who applied for the same position. Others keep going in active jobs or other duties in order to try and keep moving and be healthy - both mentally and physically.
Overall, I thought this was a very enjoyable and interesting look at retirement, as well as the issues in general facing our older population. At 26, I'm a ways away from thoughts of retirement, but issues that are facing retirees today - social security, etc - are becoming more and more problematic as the years go on, making them something that people my age should definitely think about today.
VIDEO: "Open Road" is presented in 1.33:1 full-frame. The image quality appeared to be about the same as broadcast, with satisfying sharpness and detail. Definition remained consistent, with no softness or visible inconsistency. A little bit of shimmering was seen, but no pixelation, edge enhancement or other faults were spotted. Colors looked clean and bright, with no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: "Open Road" is presented in stereo, with sound quality remaining perfectly pleasant - dialogue, narration and other assorted sounds remained crisp and clear.
EXTRAS: The short, "Focus on Civic Engagement", an extended trailer, resources list, filmmaker bio and trailer gallery.
Final Thoughts: "Open Road" is a thoughtful exploration of what lies ahead for people nearing retirement age - both the positives and the potential problems. The DVD offers very fine audio/video quality and a couple of minor supplements. Recommended viewing for those nearing retirement or recently retired.