Critics' Pick

Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory (NR)

Documentary 74 min. August 1, 2014
By Nick Schager
Practically guaranteed to elicit tears within its first five minutes, Alive Inside — a documentary about activist Dan Cohen's attempts to get nursing homes to use music as part of their care regimen for those with dementia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases — is nonetheless more than just a tearjerker. Opening with clips of an unwell elderly woman and man becoming rejuvenated, physically and mentally, after listening to their favorite songs from their youth, director Michael Rossato-Bennett's moving film argues music's therapeutic value on slowly deteriorating minds. This treatment is the brainchild of Cohen, whose Music & Memory nonprofit organization advocates such methods as a way to not only relight the spark of senior citizens cast into mental darkness but also — by functioning as an at-home alternative to pharmaceutical medication — to help alleviate an increasingly overly burdened health care system. That latter argument is far from thoroughly (or convincingly) laid out. Yet Rossato-Bennett's footage of confused and/or comatose older people being euphorically reinvigorated by songs on Cohen's iPod compellingly conveys how music — so intimately wedded to our emotions and experiences — can help the severely ill elderly reconnect with themselves.
Michael Rossato-Bennett Dan Cohen Michael Rossato-Bennett, George Strayton Michael Rossato-Bennett, Alexandra McDougald BOND/360


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