Young at Heart 

Stephen Walker's documentary about Northampton, Massachusetts' Young At Heart senior-citizen chorus begins with a wince, as 92-year-old Eileen Hall recites the words to the Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go" while Walker repeatedly cuts away to excited faces in the crowd. But rather than an awful, cutesy look at the kind of "Rockin' Grannies" seen only in Cocoon or diet-soda commercials, Young at Heart is a moving tribute to music and mortality that succeeds greatly on its own unusual terms.

Inevitably, there are some jokes about these senior citizens' bewildered reactions to the funk and rock-and-roll numbers they'll have to perform, which are cannily chosen by chorus director Bob Cilman. But the chorus members have a sense of humor about their often ridiculously artsy source material: After listening to Sonic Youth's "Schizophrenia" and singing along to it, one septuagenarian hits her mark and wails in mock-delight, "Oh, a note! A note!"

Interestingly, the chorus often transforms the songs more than the songs transform them; their interpretations often give the lyrics unexpected grace and dignity. David Bowie's "Golden Years" is reborn as a post-retirement anthem, and oxygen-tank-wearing Fred Knittle's interpretation of Coldplay's "Fix You" is as definitive as Aretha Franklin's version of Otis Redding's "Respect." The film is a ruthlessly efficient tearjerker as well: Not even an enthusiastic, off-key reading of "I Feel Good" can completely dispel the ever-present specter of death.

Opening Friday, May 16th, at Ridgeway Four

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
    • Moana

      Disney goes Polynesian!
    • Moonlight

      Director Barry Jenkins creates a rapturous trip through a tragic young life.

Blogs

Tiger Blue

Ole Miss 85, Tigers 77

Fly On The Wall Blog

Tony Allen's Big D Beats Stiff Competition

Intermission Impossible

Naughty & Nice: What's on Stage this Christmas?

News Blog

Etsy Declares Memphis an "Official Maker City"

Politics Beat Blog

Rep. Ellison, Frontrunner in DNC Race, to be Honored Here

Politics Beat Blog

Cohen Introduces Amendment to Scrap Electoral College

Hungry Memphis

Long Road Cider Opening this Weekend

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Addison Engelking

Readers also liked…

ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2016

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation