“Between uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, I would say we were about three hundred people. Only I was left.”
Hymie is the Lodge godfather, its Vice President, unpaid handyman, and resident poet. He uses humor to deflect questions about his agonizing past and he is the driving force behind the decision to dissolve the colony — and perhaps the only one who can save it.
“Beshert. It means destiny.”
After 55 years of marriage, she often provides a sobering counterpoint to his off-color jokes. About her husband’s past, Tosha says, “No matter how hard I try, he doesn’t want to talk about it.”
“The best thing in life is to eat, drink and be happy. When you’re finished, you’re finished.”
Aron embodies the raucous spirit of the Lodge. He may be 91 and grievously ill, but Aron drinks scotch like water, enjoys artery-clogging kielbasa and dances the mambo like a young ruffian.
“He’s going to live like everybody else. Until he dies!”
Basie is the bracingly frank wife of Aron and a Russian-born rebel who can dispense love and disdain with a single glance.
“Life is not easy for everyone. But life can be beautiful even when it’s not so easy.”
Olga travels to the Catskills from her home in El Paso each summer to share a room with Genya Boyman, her life-long companion. Loving and insightful, Olga is the film’s unofficial narrator and a font of philosophical musings about life, aging and the value of friendship.
“One day, one day I’ll tell my story – I suppose it will be on my deathbed.”
Genya, Olga’s companion, is an occasionally dour but eminently regal presence at the Lodge. She is a straight-shooter who heaps ridicule on those who hide their age, but when it comes to the past, Genya is incapable of talking about her wartime experiences.
“To be in love at my age is something I never expected. Somebody must be watching over us.”
Tobias is a former soccer star who was the only Jew on the German team. After the death of his wife, he falls in love with Lola, a fellow lodger whom he first met at a Nazi death camp. Unexpected illness, however, tests the bonds of their blossoming affair.
“I was in a concentration camp four years and I never saw no miracles. Luck yes. As far as I’m concerned God is about miracles.”
Carl is President of the Lodge and a selfless workhorse who struggles to keep the colony going even as he tends to his ailing wife, Cesia.
“We were together in one camp. When we were liberated she didn’t have nobody and I didn’t have nobody. Four months later we got married.”
Cesia, Carl’s wife, is battling Alzheimer’s disease and confined to a wheelchair. Her haunting cries, which reverberate across the colony, are an unwelcome reminder of mortality.
“I’m full of life. I like to dance, I like to go places, I like to enjoy a little bit my life.”
Lola is the spunky paramour of Tobias Buchman who reluctantly agrees to leave the colony early after he falls ill.