Film Review: Grandma Lo-Fi (Amma Lo-Fi)




   Grandma Lo-Fi is a compassionate look at the passion of a woman who, upon reaching seventy years old, realised that she had melodies inside her that needed to be released. Armed with only the most lo-fi of recording equipment and, essentially, the universe that was stored in her mind, the lively Sigridur Nielsdottir spent the next seven years creating fifty nine full-length albums of her compositions.

   A Hollywood narrative would have considered making it's protagonist a late-life musical prodigy whose mind-blowing natural ability would have rivaled the works of  Mozart and Beethoven. Yet, in the real world events which form this documentary, Nielsdottir is simply a self-taught musician who creates almost minimalist works of simplicity  - what drives her art is not so much bravura talent but something sorely lacking in much of society: sincerity.

   Charmingly, Nielsdottir is a lady who comes across as someone with no airs and graces - sure, she achieves cult status and gets mentioned for her work by a few famous people but the inspiration behind her compositions is nothing as vacuous as recognition. Her recordings are created for an audience of one; if her melodies can bring joy to the world, that's a lovely bonus. Here, co-directors Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir, Orri Jonsson and Kristín Björk Kristjánsdóttir coax out a few revealing thoughts on how the lady known as Grandma Lo-Fi approaches recording and, in doing so, paint a portrait of a kindly, imaginative lady with real joy in her existence.
 
   The only real flaw to this delightful featurette is the occasional musical interlude by self-concious hipster musicians who appear to reside at the opposite end of the spectrum to Nielsdottir - whilst her music was conjured up entirely from the soul, a parade of young adults ape her style with a wry smirk verging on mockery rather than celebration. Thankfully, rather than spoiling the documentary, these musicians highlighted what exactly made Grandma Lo-Fi so special - in a battle of irony vs earnesty, it is the seventy year old lady who made music because her heart told her to above all else who steals our hearts and admiration. By sharing the love inside, the world becomes an infinitely more beautiful place.


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