I Laughed, I Cried

Last night we saw the greatest movie. Within the first two minutes I was laughing so hard that tears were streaming down my cheek. Young@Heart is the touching story of an elderly chorus that tackles classic rock songs, and I’m here to tell you that the film walks you through hilarious episodes of them trying to learn the music, and heart wrenching scenes of human frailty. Its beautiful because the singers are endearing, you instantly like each one of them. Throughout the movie I kept thinking to myself that these people are so interesting, I’d love to have a cup of coffee and just visit with them. One of them reminded me of my great uncle Greenie, and that just brought a whole other set of emotions into the mix.

The music is nothing short of brilliant. The group covers The Rolling Stones, The Ramones, Coldplay, Talking Heads, Sonic Youth, Radiohead, Gloria Gaynor, The Bee Gees, David Bowie and more. You’ll notice that none of this music is from their generation, and therein lies the beauty. When they sing the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated”, or Talking Head’s “Life During Wartime” it brings a fresh perspective to the song, first because they sing it so well that its almost like the music was written for them and second because you know that these songs mean something different to them than it would to you or me.

Life has sharpened the humanity of these performers, and it shines through in their work. Throughout the movie you see the health issues that this group must overcome to participate. Bouts with cancer, pneumonia and death do not get in the way of singing, they add to it. Instead of canceling shows, they dedicate them to the members that can’t be there and sing their hearts out. During the filming two members passed away, and you get to see the chorus give a fantastic performance within hours of hearing the news.

For a taste, here’s a clip of Fred Nettle singing Coldplay’s “Fix You”. If I hadn’t seen the movie I’d love it. Once you know the story leading up to this performance, it means so much more. I lose it when the chorus sings “Tears stream down your face…” From the expression on his face to the out of time puff of his oxygen pump, you can see that Fred went to some effort to be here for this performance. How can you not be moved by this?

I don’t think I could give this movie enough praise. I’m giving it five out of five stars. And if I live to be 70, I’m moving to Northampton Massachusetts.

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