Monday, October 20, 2008

Young @ Heart

As promised in my first post, this blog is not all about politics.  I mentioned that I would, from time to time review a film.  So, on a lighter note I submit my review of the the documentary Young @Heart.  Note: When I review a film on here, most of the time it will be my way suggesting a film that's a little off the beaten path that I think is worth watching. 
Young @ Heart is the fascinating look at a New England community chorus as they prepare for an upcoming tour.  The kicker is that the median age of the chorus is over 80, and they belt out rock songs from artist such as The Ramones, The Clash, James Brown, David Bowie, Sonic Youth and others.  When the members of the chorus are first introduced to these songs many of them are plugging their ears.  But, they love to perform them, and the end result is something quite magical.  I know, the idea of a geriatric choir singing rock and pop songs just seems silly, but this film is much more than just a gimmick.
From the very entertaining and flirtatious  92 year-old Eileen Hall, to Lenny Fontain, who drives like a teenager that just downed a Rock Star energy drink, you'll be hard pressed not to get attached to these lovable real characters.  You haven't lived until you've watched Lenny and his buddy Joe Mitchell discuss which side of a compact disc is the top.  The group's 50-something director Bob Climan experiences much frustration and joy throughout the film as teaches the group some difficult new songs and prepares them for a big, sold-out local show.
A few things really stood out to me about this film.  The first thing, was the way in which they take these songs and make them their own.  When Fred Knittle, who is very overweight and on an oxygen machine, sings COLDPLAY's "Fix You" there is a depth, quality and dare I say believability to it that even Chris Martin has to envy.  Second, was just how drawn into their individual stories I was.  There are definite ups and downs in their story, and I felt every one of them.  Third, was what an inspiration the the elderly folks in this film are.  The zestful lives they live in spite of many major medical problems make you want to never complain about your life ever again.               
The films director Stephen Walker did a wonderful job of allowing reality to play out on the screen.  In fact every laughter and tears moment in this film is created by the genuine lives of the chorus members, not the film maker himself.  Young @ Heart shows that good documentaries don't have to be politically driven or manipulated.  Rather, they can accurately present the touching stories of real, ordinary people in everyday life.  In my opinion, this method rivals and often surpasses any Hollywood creation. 

If your not inclined to enjoy a good documentary every now and again, chances are Young @ Heart is not for you.  But, if you find old people interesting like me, I guarantee you'll like...nay you'll love this film.  It was recently released on DVD, so you should be able to find a copy at your local movie store.  If you do watch Young @ Heart or you have already seen it, please let me know what you think. 

Young @ Heart is rated PG
As a tribute to my late grandmother and in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I give it four out of five pink ribbons:                                                                          -----