Like an automotive Young@Heart, Hua Tien-hau’s Go Grandriders follows 17 octogenarians on a scooter journey across their native Taiwan.
Hua himself never directly comments upon or investigates the annual event so much as merely documents it; the insight comes courtesy of the riders’ families and medical advisors, all of whom express a cautious optimism regarding the dangerous but rewarding endeavor. Grandriders mostly, but by no means always, avoids the more cloying or heartwarming aspects of its tale in favor of a frank account of the implications of aging in Taiwan—not just the obvious fact of mortality but also society’s changing (and often unfair) conception of how the elderly are meant to carry on.
Threaded throughout are frequent updates on key participants’ medical statuses—the captain who gets hospitalized early on and is more upset about not fulfilling his responsibilities to his team than he is about his declining health is a standout—and requisite shots of striking landscapes set to low-key acoustic guitar. The human spirit is often more resilient than the body it resides within, as Grandriders reminds us time and again, a message whose returns gradually diminish as the film goes on.
The other point made here is no more revelatory but hard to dispute: Getting old is difficult and sad, but it beats the alternative.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 23, 2013