MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
You’ve heard all of the comments before. “Getting old isn’t for sissies.” “Kids have to grow up so fast these days.” “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” “You’re getting older by the minute”.
There’s no denying that from the moment of our birth we are aware of our body’s ageing process. Parents watch their children grow up. Kids ponder what it means to be older, to become teenagers and then adults. Through the years, we hold on to the ideals of youth and vitality while our bodies remind us that nothing lasts forever, including youth and vitality. Life gets messy with disease, divorce, and unforeseen circumstances.
Old is a film that surprisingly touches on just about everything I have mentioned. This film is not a success, but I admire writer-director M. Night Shyamalan’s bold imagination and his willingness to reflect on deep and pervasive ideas in a conventional horror/science fiction film.
The movie begins like an episode of Fantasy Island. Vacationers arrive at an island resort and are handed tropical drinks from their host. After finding their way to their family suite, Guy and Prisca (Bernal and Krieps) and their children 6-year-old Trent (Nolan River) and 11-year-old Maddox (Alexa Swinton) are offered a special trip to a private beach. After getting off the bus, they discover that there are other vacationers on the beach, including an intense doctor (Rufus Sewell), his wife (Abbey Lee), mother (Kathleen Chalfant) and daughter Kara (Mikaya Fisher); a rapper known as Mid-Sized Sedan (Aaron Pierre); and one other couple (Ken Leung and Nikki Amuka-Bird). Things become strange very fast, as their physical bodies accelerate in growth and they discover abandoned objects on the beach from previous vacationers.
This mixed-up group of confused vacationers decide to make the most of a rather bizarre outing while also dealing with their own personal problems. I was frankly surprised at the children’s willingness to go with their parents on such a far-fetched side-trip, although it is implied that there will be other activities in store.
I think Old would have made a better limited series on cable than a standalone movie. The characters are so thinly drawn and the dialogue so clunky, I could not empathize with anyone. The film begins with a shaky premise, goes off into unexpected and ludicrous directions and concludes with an epilogue that confirms the slapdash nature of the plot devices. A bit more time and a few rewrites and this could have been an interesting movie.
As it stands, it wobbles and falls. That’s Old for you.
Note: Old was filmed in the Dominican Republic during the pandemic. It is the first movie that I recall seeing with end credits for a “Covid Compliance Officer”. Well done, Officer Sachi Sone!
Halo and Pitchfork Rating:
Two halos: An interesting reflection on ageing is promised but not delivered; this will not age well.
Two pitchforks: Moments of grotesque body horror, intense for a PG-13 movie; scenes of death; typical PG-13 swearing.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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