Young @ Heart
- Director:Stephen Walker
- Cast:Bob Cilman, Eileen Hall, Fred Knittle, Steve Martin
- Release Date:October 16, 2008
- Running time:107 minutes
- Film Worth:$13.50
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“…funny, touching and life affirming.”
92-year-old Eileen Hall is leading the chorus through a punk rock song made famous by The Clash. Later, the chorus - whose average age is eighty - will tackle tunes originally recorded by Sonic Youth, The Ramones, Coldplay, James Brown, Talking Heads and David Bowie. The marriage of contemporary rock with senior citizens is, of course, an unlikely combination, and has a certain novelty value. Novelty alone, however, cannot stretch into a worthy, feature-length documentary, nor account for the Young @ Heart Chorus' international success. There's more going on here than that - these seniors are sensational. True, some of the solo voices are somewhat shaky, but most are astounding, and when blended together produce a full-bodied sound that has genuine musical value.
Narrated by British director Stephen Walker, Young @ Heart follows the chorus as they rehearse new material for a big gig in their hometown of Northampton, Massachusetts. Led by middle-aged musical director, "taskmaster" Bob Cilman, and aided by a solid backing band, the choir's interpretation of modern songs is quite fascinating. Apart from the wonderful music, this thoroughly entertaining doco succeeds because we really get to know these great and gutsy seniors. On a deeper level, it underlines how important community involvement is for older people - the chorus lives for its work. There's also real life drama. When a couple of the choir members fall ill, the documentary has the ability to move you to tears.
Peppered with playful music videos, it's worth seeing on the big screen - not so much for the visuals, but to experience the music in cinema-quality sound, and for the joy of seeing this uplifting film with an audience. Young @ Heart is funny, touching and life affirming.