Young @ Heart

From the washed-out images to the twee voice-over (courtesy of director Stephen Walker), this British television documentary about the titular Massachusetts-based senior-citizens’ chorus so slavishly embodies the creakiest clichés of British television documentaries that you begin to wonder if it’s not all a big put-on—if Christopher Guest didn’t direct the damn thing under a pseudonym. Fortunately, Walker’s subjects—nearly all in their eighties and nineties, with a greatest-hits collection of medical ailments and a set list that runs the gamut from the Beatles to Sonic Youth—more than carry the day. Set over the six weeks leading up to the chorus’s latest concert, Young @ Heart adopts the will-they-pull-it-all-together-by-showtime formula of so many backstage docs, with the caveat that, for these performers, neither time nor Father Time is on their side. The film’s appeal is at once sentimental and perverse: It’s not every day that you get to see a 92-year-old woman soloing on “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” or a deeply affecting rendition of Coldplay’s “Fix You” performed by an octogenarian with congestive heart failure. Not surprisingly, a feature remake is already in the works.
April 18-24, 2008

 
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