Rock 'n Roll Will Never Die.
"Vibrant and vivacious documentary. Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer
|Get ready to rock out with the most entertaining 'golden oldies' you will ever meet, a fun-loving seniors choir called 'young @ heart'. This feisty troupe performs songs from james brown to coldplay - and proves that hard rock can be hard when you are hard of hearing!|
"A heartening and poignant affirmation of the transformative power of music. Claudia Puig, USA Today
"An exuberant, affectionate documentary. Jessica Reaves, Chicago Tribune
"...a moving portrait of senior citizens who believe it's better to burn out than fade away. Marc Mohan, Portland Oregonian
"A crowd-pleaser in the best sense, this alternately hilarious and heartbreaking movie will send you out of the theater with a new lease on life. Newsweek
As early as autumn 2006, surreal and hilarious video clips of Stephen Walker's documentary (which originally aired on the BBC) were making the rounds on YouTube and in email inboxes all over the U.S.--tantalizing, out-of-context glimpses of the Young@Heart vocal choir, composed of elderly men and women, having a go at chestnuts by Sonic Youth, the Clash, and the Ramones. It seemed that the feature film, re-released for the screen in 2008, would perhaps be an uncomfortably comic look at a bunch of geezers set up to look ridiculous for the smug delectation of hipster audiences everywhere. The reality is not so far off-base, at least on first glance, but Walker's film, tracking the progress of the chorus as they prepare for a big gig, provides enough good-natured humor, personal narrative, and intimate details to inspire respect and admiration--and some major heart-string-plucking--in filmgoers. Viewers witness the blossoming of long-buried or completely latent musical talents in the elderly folks; learning the new, unfamiliar material, under the direction of irascible 50-something conductor Bob Cilman, keeps their neurons firing and their emotions kindled, while communing with and trusting each other staves off the isolating effects of old age, even as they cope with heartbreaking losses within their ranks. It is undeniably funny to watch them struggle with the more challenging punk, classic rock, and soul songs as their leader kvetches wearily, but Walker skillfully ensures that, by the end of the film, we are laughing with the intrepid Young@Hearters, and not at them.
Cast & Crew
3.5 stars out of 4 -- "YOUNG@HEART focuses on a few engaging performers and gives us a window into their lives and philosophies on aging."
Los Angeles Times
"The irresistible New England chorus of senior citizens proves you're never too old to rock....It's as much of a heady tonic for these folks to take on these unlikely lyrics as it is for us to watch it all go down."
New York Times
"The movie offers an encouraging vision of old age in which the depression commonly associated with decrepitude is held at bay by music making, camaraderie and a sense of humor."
"[They] make joyful music, communicated, both by the singers and their playful, sensitive documentarian, with an authority that quite knocks of socks." -- Grade: A-
4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] fond, uplifting and unabashedly sentimental documentary....The film's fly-on-the-wall wobblycam visuals are enlivened by Sally George's weirdly witty music-video inserts..."
ReelViews 8 of 10
When I think of the musical associations of men and women in their golden years, the names that come to mind are Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, and maybe Herb Alpert or Neil Sedaka. I wouldn't connect a white-haired old lady with Sonic Youth, Coldplay, and the Talking Heads. Yet that's where Young @ Heart takes its audience - into the behind-the-scenes stories, rehearsals, and performances of a New England chorus that takes its rock 'n roll, punk, and blues seriously, even though the youngest performer is 72. Young @ Heart, a labor of love for British documentarian Stephen Walker, doesn't tackle any big issues or ask any life-changing questions. It's a simple chronicle of admirable people that's part humor, part sentimentality, and part inspiration. If the characters populating this movie don't get you, the music probably will...My reservation about Young @ Heart is the same one I have for most documentaries: its inherent theatricality, or lack thereof. One could generate a plausible argument that this film might play better on a small screen than a large one. Certainly, it won't lose anything if reduced to 31". Like all movies shot on video, there are times when it doesn't look so good in the 35 mm format. However, whether you see it in a theater or on TV, Young @ Heart is likely to bring a smile to your lips and a bounce to your step.
- James Berardinelli
Reel.com 10 of 10
When we were kids, all we wanted to do was grow up to stay up late and eat ice cream whenever we wanted. We don't know when adulthood hits. One day we wake up and have a job and responsibilities. Suddenly, aging terrifies us, as if our lives our end at 50. And then there's Young at Heart, a chorus with members ranging from 72 to 92-plus years old belting out rock classics from The Clash to Talking Heads...From frame one, we giggle, as 92 year-old Eileen Hall screaming The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" with a grandmotherly British accent. But we aren't laughing at her. We laugh because we're surprised. Surprised by the grit and fire in the voices. Surprised by the vitality of rock and roll. Surprised because old age has never been so alive...The spirit of rock and roll is embedded in the singers, but that's not what we connect with. We connect with their passion and honesty -- two emotions that are rarely found in life, let alone cinema. Where popular documentaries present a reality filtered through a filmmaker, Young at Heart allows reality to play out as it happens. The movie could show audiences that documentaries don't have to be stuffy, politically-driven creations, but rather can be touching stories of everyday people that are potentially more moving and enjoyable than any Hollywood blockbuster, if only audiences would step outside themselves and take a chance.
- Jason Morgan