Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Young @ Heart

If you're talking about spring chickens in this choral group you'd be referring to someone 73 years of age. Young at Heart chronicles a singing group of seniors who find inspiration in rock and soul poetry: Sonic Youth, James Brown, The Clash, and Talking Heads provide just some of the songs covered. Only this movie is froth, there may've been more substance further down the glass but all we get is the froth on top.
Young at Heart satisfies the masses and you rapidly fall into its groove. What's not to like about oldsters singing "I Wanna Be Sedated" by The Ramones, shot with a high contrast look to further emphasize the polarity. Although I suppose that even someone currently in their 90s would've been in their 50s or 60s during the period of time the songs used in Young at Heart were written, and I know plenty of people with gray hair who like to rock steady. However the film makes its central spine the fact that these kind souls, these once strong voices just like to sing. Yet none of them seem familiar with standards like "I Feel Good" when it's introduced by the leader and musical director, himself in his 50s and a baby to all concerned.
Where Young at Heart lost me was in the third act. The way it's edited creates peaks and valleys revolving around the death of two of the members. From that time on the film felt manipulative in a condescending way. The film doesn't need that kind of twist to be a crowd pleaser but that's the route it takes.

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