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John, a nursing-home resident with dementia, listens to the Andrews Sisters in a moment from the documentary "Alive Inside." Courtesy Sundance Institute
Sundance review: ‘Alive Inside’

"Alive Inside"

U.S. Documentary

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*** 1/2 (three and a half stars)

Sometimes a documentary has such a simple, self-evident case to be made that all a filmmaker need to is film it and not get in the way. That’s the case with "Alive Inside," Michael Rossato-Bennett’s touching look at Alzheimer’s patients and the way America treats its elderly. The film follows Dan Cohen, a social worker who hit upon the idea of giving iPods to Alzheimer’s sufferers, and using the music of their younger days to reach through dementia and bring their spirits back to life. The scenes in which Cohen does this, making old faces light up like children, are intense on their own. Rossato-Bennett wraps those moments into a larger discussion about the power of music and the ridiculous way the American health care system warehouses the elderly. As much a movement as a movie, "Alive Inside" is good at telling -- but a lot better at showing.

-- Sean P. Means

"Alive Inside" has no more screenings scheduled for the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

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