By CAINE GARDNER
Every person at some point in their lives dreams of becoming a rock star and have multitudes of fans chanting their name as they belt out their tunes. For a group of senior citizens -- this is their reality -- and Young@Heart is their story.
Young@Heart is a truly inspirational film. Rarely do you find yourself more optimistic about life and the journey ahead after watching a film, but Young@Heart achieves this and then some. It's wonderful to see a group of advanced adults who are more willing to go out of their comfort zone than most youths.
The film begins with Eileen Hall, a 92-year-old with a wise soul and a wicked sense of humor, belting out the beginning lines of "Should I Stay or Should I Go?." Well, maybe belting is a wrong choice of words to use, but when you hear her wailing into the mic to start the song, it's obvious you're in for a unique experience.
Young@Heart is the story of the choir and its quest to prepare for a show that is only seven weeks away. Instead of singing old time standards, this group has something else in mind. When you finally hear their proposed set list that includes songs ranging from Jimi Hendrix to Coldplay to Sonic Youth, it's clear choir director Bob Climan has some challenges ahead of him.
The first song the singers are given is "Schizophrenia" and it's more than hilarious to watch as half of the choir holds their ears, while the other half winces as some stuff pieces of tissue in their ears. Even with the obvious concerns about song choice, not once does a member voice them -- their faith in Cilman is amazing.
Throughout the film we are introduced to members of the choir and the shoot down any myths people have about people supposedly in their twilight. More often than not, the viewers will find themselves feeling guilty, recalling the moments in their lives that their excuses have outweighed their joys.
Young@Heart is filled with hilarious moments, but one that stood out for me was when two members of the choir are trying to work out the logistics of how to use a CD. Absolutely hysterical.
The flick is also filled with scenes that will not rip, but tear at your heartstrings.
Two members of the choir return after extended periods of time away from the choir. One has congestive heart failure and the other has been recovering from a bout with spinal meningitis. Their love of their music and their desire to return to the group is amazing.
As the concert approaches the groups hones their songs as they ready to bring the house down. But with any good story, there has to come a moment of tragedy -- and it hits the group the week of the performance.
After talking and deciding to carry on with the performance, Hall explains that they must go on and if something was to happen to her, she would expect them to carry on without her.
"I always tell people, for years I've told them, when I pass on I shan't go out of your life," Hall says "I shall be sitting on a rainbow looking down watching you, so keep doing what we've always done together -- and I'll be there."
The most poignant moment of the film comes at the end in what Fred Knittle considers to be his swan, or in his words, his "ugly duck song." Knittle is helped on stage by Cilman, then proceeds to leave not a dry eye in the crowd as he sings "Fix You" by Coldplay. The rendition is more powerful due to the fact that, originally slated as a duet, Knittle sits alone in the middle of the stage, slightly struggling to get the words out as his oxygen machine is heard pumping through the mic.
Final Cut: Young@Heart is a charming and moving film. Maybe not a film you'll watch over and over, but one that will definitely keep your priorities in line if given a viewing from time to time. Also, it's a must see for people who have lobbied to get music programs taken out of school, so they can see that just a few little notes make up the symphony of life.
3.5 out of 4 stars
Run time: 108 min.
Director: Stephen Walker
* Young@Heart Goes to Hollywood Featurette
* Deleted Scenes