RIFF 2014: Alive Inside Review

Alive Inside

Michael Rossato–Bennett’s look at the effects of music therapy on the minds of patients with Alzheimer’s disease is a terrible made and constructed film, but it makes up for its lack of subtlety and tact (and the fact that it’s essentially product placement for the core organization involved) with a great amount of heart and warmth.

The filmmaker follows the work of Dan Cohen, founder of not-for-profit organization Music & Memory, a former social worker who helped to invent musical therapy for people with deteriorating diseases. Cohen’s work is notably effective and he infuses his interactions with love, but the film wants to make it look like he’s the only person doing such therapy. It’s not hard science, and at only just over 70 minutes, it’s very narrow-minded. Rossato-Bennett’s sometimes didactic, heavy handed, and unnecessary narration and cutsey editing designed to make it all look flashier almost derail everything.

Alive Inside

Yet, there’s something undeniably stirring about watching someone who has been losing their memories have their eyes light up at the sounds of their youth or their favourite musical pieces. The power of these moments is undeniable and Cohen, the stories of the individuals he’s helping, and asides that include Bobby McFerrin and Oliver Sacks make this one worth a watch. It probably would have worked a lot better as a short, but it also picked up an award at Sundance, so maybe it works just fine if you can put out of mind that it’s made by someone who doesn’t really know how to make a movie outside of creating bullet points and obvious shorthand. (Andrew Parker)


Wednesday, October 15th, 9:30pm, The Royal

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