(PG) 108 min
In Western society we feel awkward and ashamed about the elderly. Seeing an OAP struggling down the street causes us to experience sympathy for their plight and terror that we are witnessing a glimpse of our own fragile futures. But in Young@Heart, Stephen Walker’s documentary (a Sundance hit which was first shown on More4 in 2006 and now re-edited for a UK theatrical release), a new positive light is shone on the potential fate of the aged.
Young@Heart is a chorus of seniors from Massachusetts which has been charming audiences since 1982 under the tutelage of director Bob Cilman. But this is no leisurely stroll towards oblivion for the singers, as Cilman pushes them all the way with tunes from Radiohead, Sonic Youth and the Ramones. Though there is a sneaking black humour amid the song titles: ‘Stayin’ Alive’, ‘Road to Nowhere’, ‘I Wanna Be Sedated’ are just three of the delicate ironies being merrily belted out.
We meet them as they prepare for their Alive and Well tour which is overshadowed by serious illness and an inability by some to remember their lines and make their cues. But as death stalks them, the group take a time out from rehearsal to perform an outdoor gig at a local jail, visibly moving the inmates with their version of Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’. Indeed, those who are not totally hard of heart should be weeping like a baby from around the half hour mark all the way through to the triumphant opening night of the tour. A genuinely life-affirming treat.
Selected release from Fri 24 Oct.