Young@Heart: Movie Review
Cast: The Young@Heart song chorus, Bob Cilman (chorus
Director: Stephen Walker
If I were to tell you that I had spent an evening with a group of
septagenarians and octagenarians, you may raise an eyebrow.
If I were to expand on that and tell you that those 20 octagenarians had
reduced me to near tears and wide grins with their singing, you'd maybe think
I'd gone a bit nuts.
So let me explain - set in America, this film tells the story of the
Young@Heart chorus, a group of 20 or so New England retirees who spend their
spare time performing on stage.
There's nothing unusual about that, but this group spends their evenings
giving us their unique take on pop songs from the likes of James Brown, The
Clash, Coldplay, Talking Heads and in a slightly surreal decision, Sonic
The doco from Stephen Walker follows the group as, seven weeks out, they
prepare for a new tour, ironically named "Alive and Well tour", under the
tutelage of chorus director and musical manager Bob Cilman.
And that's all there is to it really.
Except for the fact, this is probably one of the most endearing and uplifting
documentaries I have seen in a very long time; at turns, amusing and funny and
then when you least expect it, heartbreaking and capable of reducing you to
Throughout, we watch Bob Cilman try to coax the gang into getting their heads
round the new songs he wants them to perform.
We see one soloist struggle through rehearsals to remember two crucial lines
of James Brown's "I Feel Good" (which leads to tension on show night), the
heartbreak of a duet of Coldplay's "Fix U" plagued by ill health - and while all
this is going on, the doco is interspersed with music videos the Young@Heart
Chorus has made (including Talking Heads' "Road to Nowhere", and the Bee Gees
"Staying Alive" - the irony of which isn't lost on anyone watching this)
These pensioners have more life in them than you've ever seen - when their
director increases the number of rehearsals, they grumble and gripe like kids
but just get on with it such is their joie de vivre.
Their enthusiasm is infectious - from the opening moments when a 92-year old
woman sings The Clash's anthem "Should I Stay or Go?", I was hooked and moved by
the journey the group goes on; not only do these singers have to worry about
dying on stage, off stage it's a very real concern for them.
This is easily a contender for one of the films of the year as far as I'm
It has heart, soul and sadness in equal measures - and if you go to see it
and it doesn't touch you at all, then I'm afraid you must have a heart of