Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Quickie: Young@Heart


Release: 04.09.2008 limited
Rated PG
1 hour, 47 minutes


is a documentary which follows the Young@Heart chorus from the beginning of their hectic seven-week rehearsal schedule until opening night in their hometown of Northampton, Massachusetts. The big deal? The chorus is comprised of members whose average age is 80 years old. Choral Director Bob Cilman started the chorus back in 1982 to perform showtunes, but its repertoire has evolved over the years to include complicated numbers by classic and contemporary rock and pop artists such as James Brown, the Clash, Sonic Youth and even Coldplay.

British filmmaker Stephen Walker caught this venerable choir's performance in London and followed them back to the States to get a behind-the-scenes look at what makes it all work. Walker interviews several choir members about their lives and why they perform. Eileen Hall is a spry 92 years old and you can tell Walker is smitten by her charms and energy immediately. Former member Fred Knittle, returning to the chorus after a long illness, is damn funny despite being tethered to an oxygen machine. Walker gets the giggles just being around him, or almost any other chorus member. Given that there are so many members in the chorus, it's clear that not all their stories could be shown within the film's runtime (and it's possible some members preferred not to be spotlighted). Walker intertwines snippets of the group's rehearsals and concerts with brief personal interviews and spices it up with a series of inventive music videos!

With only a couple of questions and a steady camera, the interviewees' tenacity and liveliness radiate onscreen. In just a brief stint, the Young@Heart chorus captivate audiences with their uplifting and heartwarming stories. Be warned that you may experience uncontrollable surges in your emotions.

Rigorous practice regimens, music video shoots, documentary interviews and world tours...I thought the Rolling Stones were the only elderly rockers able to maintain such a daunting schedule! Heck, Eileen has her own key to the nursing home so she can come and go when the attendants are sleeping. Young@Heart is a wonderful film that you shouldn't be reading about; you should be experiencing it.

P.S.- After seeing this film, check out their site to learn even more about these inspiring folks.

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  1. Now I get the Red, Blue and Grey period thing. I thought it was gonna be a reference to the Jones movies you watched. This is much more fitting, though.

    I should want to see this, and your review should help, but (up until Crystal Skull), there's just been nothing to motivate me to go the movies for the past few weeks.

  2. This summer has seemed sparse to me too. I think that's why the wife was so happy to suggest we get our fill with these indy flicks.

    I'm so glad Indy 4 is here now. I've had one too many emotional/thinking man's films lately. After all that's what the fall is for!