By Alan Scherstuhl
By Charles Taylor
By Melissa Anderson
By Inkoo Kang
By Amy Nicholson
By Sam Weisberg
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Chuck Wilson
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 a part of their care regimen for those afflicted 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 the favorite songs of 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 non-profit 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.
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