Film review – Young@Heart (2007)

The Young@Heart chorus members are seniors who sing R&B, punk and rock songs by the likes of James Brown, Sonic Youth and Coldplay. This terrific documentary is in many ways a traditional ‘will they get the show ready in time?’ story, which reveals the creative process leading up to a concert, and the lives of the chorus members outside of the rehearsal room.

Young@Heart celebrates getting the most out of life, no matter your age. The reality of a choir whose average age is 80 is that many of its members have significant health problems and not all of them make it to the next performance. The ‘show must go on’ attitude of the chorus is a glorious display of passion and camaraderie. 

Certainly many of the numbers have a fun and ironic appeal (think William Shatner singing “Common People” by Pulp) but many of them also evoke Johnny Cash’s rendition of “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails – that is, many of these pop songs take on an incredibly profound pathos when performed by people with a lifetime of experience behind them. It’s a hard film to watch without bursting into applause.

Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 315, 2008

© Thomas Caldwell, 2008