Silver Rockers [Choeur de rockers] — Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023

Review by John P. Harvey.

Alex (Mathilde Seigner), a rock singer, has a true friend in Élodie (Armelle Deutsch), who, after Alex’s latest job has folded up, recommends her as the senior citizens’ new choirmistress.  But the choir is half-hearted in its attempts at the programme of traditional French songs that the local bureaucrat, Stéphane (Guillaume Marquet), has decreed suitable for a forthcoming community concert.  Its members would far rather do something lively, something they can relate to: rock ’n’ roll.  And they’re not slow to walk off the job to prove it.

When Stéphane quashes all suggestion of alternatives to his programme, Alex, at the urging of the choir, attempts to go around him, enlisting her daughter, Chloé (Roxane Barazzuol), to keep an eye out for him as the choir rehearses.  But her subterfuge puts her friend Élodie in an awkward position.  And then there are some particularly difficult choir members stirring up trouble.  All in all, it’s not looking good for the fast-approaching concert.

The choir has its unique characters, played by such veterans of French cinema as Patrick Rocca (as Noël, who has left rehearsal in protest, declaring that the singers were being treated like schoolchildren); Anne Benoît (as Betty, a soloist with a scary voice); and Bernard Le Coq (as André, a lothario hiding a deep love), and all play their parts in roughening the road ahead.

Seeming to start as a film about disappointment and powerlessness, Silver Rockers soon changes its tone and shows the comic power of elderly rebellion, leading to a highly satisfying climax.  More than a lesson in staying power, it’s a quiet adventure into the most unlikely genres, a film about coming to know others’ hidden virtues and talents, about holding the line together, about courage, loyalty, and laughter.

Screening at Palace cinemas.

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