Reviewed today in The Guardian:
Nick Hornby wrote a column about the series at the time, which I remember well for exactly this kind gloomy backwards projection. How dreadful, he wrote, to be involved in a show where one's youthful idealism is captured and held up against the inevitably more prosaic reality. How appalling his present life would seem – pushing a trolley around the supermarket at weekends; doing ordinary things in the ordinary manner – if juxtaposed with his seven-year-old hope and wonder at the world...I am so looking forward to seeing this movie; my previous review of this series is here.
It's true, the cut-aways from the unblemished seven-year-olds to the ravaged and not so ravaged 56-year-olds is, in places, unbearably poignant, particularly in the case of Neil, the thoughtful, troubled, intermittently homeless man who tells Apted that if he didn't have the video evidence before him, he would never have believed he had been such a cheerful child. But there is something fundamentally hopeful about it, too; with each installment, the reminder that all things pass and that, for the most part, people get on with it with resilience and humour.
Above all, in a television culture so reliant on cheap, phony reality shows, there is the satisfaction of remembering what real people saying real things should look like.