Mar 15, 2011

A Place to Live: The Story of Triangle Square

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Dual parts financially-timely social doc and skillful business infomercial, A Place to Live: The Story of Triangle Square tells the story of the creation of the titular locale - an apartment building recently built in Los Angeles to help meet the escalating housing demand for low-income, elderly gay and lesbian citizens - and a handful of the seniors who aspire to live there. Theirs is a story like many - a middle class struggling to stay afloat - compounded by whatever homophobia they've experienced over the years (the experiences vary; one man enjoyed pure acceptance by his community while growing up, only to be dishonorably discharged from military service as an adult). This chronicling is nicely polished and enthusiastically empathetic, bearing witness to both joy and sadness with equal parts hope and bitter clear-sightedness: Those who hope to live at the Square must first meet income qualifications, then be one of the lucky 150 to be selected by a random and unfeeling lottery system. If the film could be more substantial, it'd be in exploring the political and financial ins and outs of how this kind of social benefit can be achieved in the first place (the labyrinth of legal and financial yellow tape is kept out of sight, out of mind). The dramatic angle the film focuses on is essential and humane but it also hits a wall of potential; a larger look at the challenges and accomplishments herein would have revealed even greater truths and deeper flaws in society to be addressed. A Place to Live is pleasing, but in the end it's only a Band-Aid.

Directed by: Carolyn Coal Written by: Carolyn Coal, Cynthia Childs 2008, NR, 88 minutes

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