The Young@Heart Chorus, a group composed of New England senior citizens, has delighted audiences worldwide with renditions of songs by artists from The Clash to Coldplay.
Young@Heart chronicles seven weeks in the lives of the members of the chorus as they prepare for a one-night-only concert in their hometown of Northampton, Massachusetts. The group is made up of two dozen spirited seniors — former schoolteachers, executives, doctors, and food service workers — who specialize in reinterpreting rock, punk, and R&B classics from a unique perspective. What ultimately emerges in the film is a funny and unexpectedly moving testament to friendship, creative inspiration, and expectations defied.
Led by Bob Cilman, their demanding musical director, the retirees are rehearsing their new show, struggling with Sonic Youth’s dissonant rock anthem “Schizophrenia,” and giving new meaning to James Brown’s “I Feel Good.” With less than two months to go until the concert, the performers grapple with new lyrics and unfamiliar melodies. During their thrice-weekly rehearsals, they gradually take possession of music ranging from R&B classics like Allen Toussaint’s “Yes We Can Can” to Coldplay’s emotionally powerful ballad “Fix You,” upending assumptions about old age, love, sex, and death.
From 92-year-old Eileen Hall’s rousing rendition of The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” to 75-year-old Pat Linderme’s moving interpretation of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” each performance responds to the ravages of age with startling emotional depth. And, after almost two months of shooting, the Young@Heart Chorus delivers a triumphant performance that celebrates the joy of music and the lives of their lost friends. The end result is an inspirational journey with a singular group of people who may be old in body, but refuse to grow old in spirit.
- Stephen WalkerDirector