Rating: 3.5 stars
Young @ Heart, a documentary about a chorus of senior citizens who sing rock and punk songs, works, fabulously, on three different levels.
For one, it’s a performance film, complete with a tough yet devoted choral director, disastrous rehearsals, back stage jitters, and unforeseen obstacles en route to the big show.
Next, it’s a film about life and death—the choral members are mostly in their 70s and 80s (one delightful pip named Eileen is 92!)—they get sick and incapacitated and some never return. But they persevere, because dealing with death “comes with the territory,” as one choral member wryly notes. Also, as many in the group frankly state, they certainly wouldn’t want the show to stop in the unfortunate event of their own demise.
Finally, Young @ Heart is about music and its power to raise the spirit and bring unlikely people together (in one memorable scene, the chorus performs for a group of hardened convicts, who literally seem to soften in their presence.) These old people love making music, they love the energy and the power of the songs, and they love the camaraderie that comes in doing it together.
Young @ Heart will indeed make you laugh and make you cry and make you burst into spontaneous applause from your seat. And hopefully, in a culture that often puts its elders in the corner, it will remind people that our oldest citizens have a lot to offer, and that the spirit of rock 'n roll remains alive in all of us.