Michael Apted continues his series of documentary movies revisiting an average group of Joes and Janes every seven years. He started when they were 7. Now they're 56.
AN AUDIO SNAPSHOT REVIEW
In 1964, a British TV company released a documentary that highlighted 14 7-year-olds from various economic backgrounds. Although not part of the plan originally, every seven years since then, director Michael Apted of Amazing Grace and Voyage of the Dawn Treader fame, has profiled the same individuals, offering filmed updates. The most recent in this series, 56 Up, gives the latest glimpse into the lives of 13 of the original 14 participants.
The light political focus of the original documentary went by the wayside as the years progressed. And the provocative pics ever since have morphed into human interest stories. Stories that follow and give dignity to not celebrities or world changers, but ordinary men and women. They've become movies about dreams, ambitions, spouses, children, careers and grandkids. (Interestingly, film critic Roger Ebert ranked the Up film series among his Top-10 favorites.)
There's no need to have watched any of the earlier seven films to appreciate this one. And on a positive note, this latest Up underscores the value of commitment in marriage, foster parenting, getting a good education, being content and caring for special needs and disabled children. The only real drawbacks are a few language missteps and one particular participant who seems oblivious to the moral implications of her teen son's cohabitation. I should also point out that the film doesn't shy away from life's tougher moments. Depression. Infidelity. Divorce. Still, the overall feel is hopeful with a strong pro-family underpinning.