Originally a documentary made for British TV, Young@Heart was reedited for theatrical release. The trailers show the performance by old people of rock songs, and it looks like an amusing oddity. That's how the film starts out, with 92-year-old Eileen Hall taking the lead on the Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" to a packed audience, half singing, half speaking in her distinctive English accent. There is plenty of that side in the documentary. However, it turns out to be a story of struggle with illness, personal loss, and the triumph of the will. Several members of the Northampton, Massachusetts chorus, with an average in their 80s, are in very precarious health. Furthermore, they don't sing songs from their youths, but rather they are assigned to sing songs they would never normally listed to in a million years, including Sonic Youth's "Schizophrenia" and Talking Head's "Road to Nowhere." We see them struggling to learn them and make the songs their own, and even more moving, we see their determination to go on even when members of the chorus die, as they keep on doing. Only those with particularly hardened hearts will be able to sit dry-eyed all the way through. It's a movie to shatter stereotypes of old people being set in their ways, and to inspire viewers to rethink how they think about old age. It's a well made film, with interviews, shots of rehearsals, and performances, interspersed with specially-made music videos of several songs.
· Young at Heart Chorus
· Fred Knittle sings Coldplay's 'Fix You'
© 2009 Christian Perring
Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.