POMS – Martha (Diane Keaton) has cancer, and instead of subjecting herself to the conventional chemotherapy treatment, she decides to sell all that she accumulated in more than 40 years living in the same apartment in New York, and leave for a place to retire and die. She chooses a retirement community in Georgia where everything seems to be meticulously controlled and designed for the residents’ wellbeing –as defined by the managers of the place that is.
During the first night at the community, Martha will feel somehow at odds with the place, for one thing: not everything is so calm and quiet as it seems. Somehow reluctantly, she would befriend her neighbour Sheryl (Jacki Weaver), a high-spirited old lady who shares her house with her grandson (Charlie Tahan) contravening the rule that states that no one under 55 should live there.
In her youth, Martha had been a cheerleader, something that her new friend Sheryl finds fascinating. Since the community required that all residents join at least one club (there was one hundred of them), and they didn’t like any of the existing ones, Martha and Sheryl decided to start a cheerleading squad. That was an idea that the management didn’t find very suitable for the residents, but with some reservations would allow the creation of the new club as long as its proponents get the minimum 8 members required by their regulations. A task not so easy, but after some obstacles were removed, the required number was indeed reached.
After some new incidents that cost them the loss of a training area in the community, the aspiring cheerleaders had to find new facilities. Sheryl, who was a substitute teacher at the local high-school managed to find a place there, but because of misunderstanding, for the old cheerleaders the occasion instead of a single private training session, would become a very public presentation, to the embarrassment of Sheryl’s grandson, and the scorn of the young cheerleaders.
The unfortunate appearance at the high-school however, would rekindle the determination of the old women to succeed. Martha in the meantime is experiencing new symptoms of her worsening illness, but an unexpected help from Chloe (Alisha Boe), a sympathetic young cheerleader and a student of Sheryl’s, would result in a renewed self-confidence among the old women. They would even participate in a cheerleaders dance competition.
“Poms,” directed by Zara Hayes and written by Shane Atkinson is an uplifting comedy, with an important message: all these baby-boomers may still have too much to give and contribute to be treated just as discarded old clothes. And yes, they can even give you a good cheerleading show. I would recommend this film to all kinds of public, young and old. It would make you laugh, but it would also make you look at aging in quite a different way.
Feature image: Martha (Diane Keaton) is welcomed at the retirees community where she goes to die, but her presence would make an impact