There's a theatre mostly filled by the about-to-be elderly. There's a documentary, Young@Heart about a chorus of 24 American men and women (average age 80) which has just finished. The audience is not quite on its feet applauding but they are clapping from the comfort of their seats nonetheless.
That is those who aren’t discreetly wiping away tears. The last time I'd seen an audience stand and applaud was at this same Rialto Theatre in Auckland, when Mike Moore's film Bowling for Columbine screened. Moore's film was about the tragedy of yet another US school shooting and the ugly attachment of Americans to guns.
Young@Heart is quite the opposite, though its first frames hardly indicate that. The performers aren't just old, they're unfashionably ancient. And in the opening frames, the camera lingers on yellowed teeth or gaps where they should have been; on parchment for skin, on vanished or thinning hair, walking sticks and flab displayed proudly as a badge of their years. It's almost as if to say none of this matters - that there's so much more if we forget our obsession with image and look deeper. And when we did, we saw love and friendship, wit, and compassion, courage and tenacity amidst the certainty that all of them were just a step or two away from their last journey. The group is led by a musical director determined to get them into shape for a concert seven weeks away. On the night it’s a packed audience and they get their money's worth of something quite unexpected.
His chorus doesn't sing nostalgia - it rocks, literally and musically. They sing punk. They sing James Brown and they - and we - feel good. The preview we saw featured an unforgettable movie which shows rather than tells us that life is to be lived fully - and bugger old age!