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“The Romeos” – Feeding on Memories

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Published: NY Times, July 18, 2013
“There’s something historical about us,” says one of the Romeows, a crew of septuagenarians that generally meets every Wednesday in Brooklyn for dinner and conversation. He’s right, and history should record their weekly — but rare — achievement more often. Thank goodness this gentle, affectionate documentary does it.
There’s nothing flashy about “The Romeows” the film or the Romeows the men, but what they’ve created — their life’s art — matters. It’s sitting around a restaurant, eating family style, every Wednesday, just to talk. (Romeows stands for Retired Older Men Eating Out Wednesdays.)
There’s no narrative drive, and none is needed. The primary members have been bonded since their days as Brooklyn College undergraduates, when they formed a house plan, described as an informal alternative to fraternities. There’s a scene in which they attend their 50th reunion at the college in 2009, but mostly we just see them sitting at a table — or standing around Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island — talking about memories, politics, culture and friendship.
A few well-known folks show up in the honorary Romeow world, including Senator Barbara Boxer of California, but they just chat as well. The camera’s not interested in anything more than these great older faces and what they have to say. It’s the affirming longevity of that lifelong chat, and the celebration of it, that makes them and this film special.