Young at Hearts

Billing itself a "nonfiction feature," documaker Don Campbell's "Young at Hearts" is a warm and witty look at a group of eight L.A. seniors who regularly gather for a nickels-and-dimes card game at which they chew the fat on life, sex , death and reincarnation. Diverting but slim item is best suited for TV playoff , though the pic's camp flavor could equip this for gay situations as well.

With:
With: Edna Brenner, Ida Engel, Fay Fishman, Bernice Kotz, Freda Samuels, Gert Shapiro, Edna Star, Ray Stein.

Billing itself a “nonfiction feature,” documaker Don Campbell’s “Young at Hearts” is a warm and witty look at a group of eight L.A. seniors who regularly gather for a nickels-and-dimes card game at which they chew the fat on life, sex , death and reincarnation. Diverting but slim item is best suited for TV playoff , though the pic’s camp flavor could equip this for gay situations as well.

First half shows the femme octet gathered round a table where, in between playing cards, they mouth off on any topic that bounces out of the conversation. Oldest member, Ida, 90, recalls winning top prize on the Gong Show for her rendition of “Second Hand Rose”; Freda, a self-proclaimed opera singer and clairvoyant, still attends voice class; Fay, “an old woman with a young mind,” remembers her surprise 80th birthday party; and the shy Ray tells of her surprise meeting with a guy in the street that led to romance.

Film restages several of these events, and ends with them all visiting Glen Ivy Hot Springs, where they partake of swimming and mud baths, offering their upbeat views on life and encroaching death.

Best value for the money are Freda, a Polish immigrant who could talk the hind leg off a donkey, and Gert, a down-to-earth pants-chaser who consistently deflates all her friends’ hot air with acerbic jabs of wit.

Though all eight women are Jewish, the film makes little of the fact. It’s a personality-driven piece — with the women re-enacting events under Campbell’s direction — and on that basis is entertaining enough. Technical credits are smooth on a minimal budget, and the whole confection is wrapped up with some well-used candy-floss music.

Campbell shot the semi-docu on 30,000 feet of 35mm negative bought at a garage sale for $ 200. Among the six lensers is Charles Burnett, director of “To Sleep With Anger” and “The Glass Shield.”

Young at Hearts

Production: An Outsider Pictures releaseof a Don Campbell Projects production. (International sales: Outsider Enterprises, San Francisco.) Produced by Campbell, Michael Lowe. Executive producer, Thomas Byrnes. Directed, written by Don Campbell.

Crew: Camera (color), Charles Burnett, Jesus Elizondo, Rudy Harbone, Denis Maloney, James Mathers, Ron Spongberg; editors, Jim Davis, Mary Morrisey; music, Mario Grigorov; sound design, David Grecu, John Oh; assistant directors, Shane Marie, Kate Long. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (market), Feb. 13, 1994. (Also in Chicago, Palm Springs fests.) Running time: 73 MIN.

With: With: Edna Brenner, Ida Engel, Fay Fishman, Bernice Kotz, Freda Samuels, Gert Shapiro, Edna Star, Ray Stein.

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