Sunday, April 27, 2008
Directed by Stephen Walker, a British TV documentary maker, Young@Heart introduces us to the Young@Heart Chorus from Northampton, MA. What makes this chorus special? The average age of it's member is 80, with the oldest member, a young at heart (most appropos) and sassy 92-year old named Eileen Hall. Their song list is unexpected too, spanning a wide spectrum of music, including Talking Heads, The Clash, and Coldplay to name a few. The chorus has performed all over the world, including a performance for the King and Queen of Norway. The movie spans a period of seven weeks as the chorus prepares for a new show, and follows their rehearsals as they learn new songs, including Sonic Youth's Schizophrenia, James Brown's I Feel Good and the showstopper, Coldplay's Fix You. Of course, hilarity ensues during most rehearsals as these spunky seniors try to remember their lines. In between rehearsals, we get to really know some of the more lively characters in the chorus through interviews and visits to their homes, including flirty Eileen Hall who at 92 lives at a nursing home, but unlike most residents, has the key to the front door because she get's back late from some of the chorus' "gigs". There's also Joe Benoit, who at 83, has undergone six bouts of chemotheraphy (enough to kill most people), and Fred Knittle, a former member who is invited back to perform with the chorus after having left due to serious health problems. Don't think it's all gloom and doom. While the movie is poignant and sentimental, as with the passing of two members during the filming, it's got its fair share of laughs, and the message that you're never too old to have fun and expand your horizons comes through loud and clear. The highlight of the movie by far is the final touching performance, dedicated to the two deceased members, of Fix You sung by Fred Knittle, with his oxygen machine on because of his congestive heart failure. If you don't have a tear in your eye and a knot in your throat during that performance, you're just not human.