[email protected] Stephen Walker

Young@Heart Stephen Walker
It’s hard not to like this documentary despite its corny title. [email protected] follows a chorus of New England seniors who sing rock songs to stay (you guessed it) young at heart. The moment the film opens with 92-year-old Eileen Hall belting out "Should I Stay Or Should I Go” to a packed auditorium, you are hooked for a 107-minute ride through the lives of these 24 feisty seniors. Musical director Bob Cilman coaches the troupe over six weeks before a major gig. Cilman cajoles his elderly stars (average age: 80) to remember the lyrics of "Purple Haze” or follow the stop-start rhythm of James Brown’s I "Feel Good.” Cilman is tough but his singers remain loyal to him — the seniors need the chorus to keep their minds alert and their hearts beating, even if they don’t like Sonic Youth’s "Schizophrenia” at first. Bob is suffering chest pains but attends rehearsal because he "really loves” what he’s doing. Death and disease hang over the entire film — one member passes away right before a show at a men’s prison. The performance is vibrant and a rendition of "Forever Young,” dedicated to their departed comrade, moves the inmates to tears. Meanwhile, charismatic 80something Fred Knittle sings with his nose hooked up to an oxygen tank. Director Walker injects several music videos into the film, which are distracting and unnecessary since the rehearsals and live performances are exciting enough. The videos are included amongst the 12 outtakes, some of which discuss death and would’ve suited the film better than the music vids. Also missing is more background on Cilman and the origins of his chorus. The disc’s extras also offer a light and breezy clip of the seniors hitting Tinseltown, but not an audio commentary. In this case it isn’t necessary — [email protected] sings for itself. (Fox Searchlight)