Picks and Pans Review: 35 Up

updated 02/10/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/10/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

Documentary

This exhilarating film proves yet again—as Oprah, Phil and Sally demonstrate daily—that nothing heats the drama and humor of real life. 35 Up is the latest chapter in director Michael Apted's ongoing series of films about 14 British men and women he has been visiting every seven years since they were 7 years old. (Apted was a researcher in 1964 when he worked on the original British television documentary, Seven Up.)

At 35, most members of Apted's socially and economically diverse group have married and had children, are dealing with the deaths of parents ("I'd like to have been able to miss him," one says wistfully of a father to whom he was never close) and have settled into rather ordinary lives. The exceptions are Bruce, who is teaching the poor in Bangladesh, and Neil, who is mentally ill and lives on public assistance. Even Neil, though, when asked by Apted if he has failed, says, "My life isn't over yet...."

What gives this him its emotional power is the skillful interweaving of footage from ages 7, 14 (true adolescents, not one would look at the camera, and all answered in monosyllables), 21 and 28. Viewers see promise fulfilled and hope dashed, not to mention the rigid British class system indicted for making the poor poorer and the rich richer. (Unrated)

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