Old (2021)

A family on a tropical holiday discovers that the secluded beach where they are staying is somehow causing them to age rapidly, reducing their entire lives into a single day.


M. Night Shyamalan loves to do feature-length Twilight Zone episodes and that's what Old is, albeit one that's very oddly put together. It certainly tries to grasp at something, whether that's age and illness, what it means to grow up, the callousness of industries that cater to gerontological concerns, or COVID-inspired isolation, but it never truly latches onto anything concrete because it's so obsessed with plot. It feels throughout like dialog is only ever meant to be expository, in a way that never sounds natural - it practically comes with described video - and that's why I'm panning it. At its best, I think the kids (when they ARE kids, but they grow up so fast) have fun moments, and one of its endings almost achieves poignancy with its grace note, but otherwise, it's a mess. You'd think spending most of the shoot on the same beach would make the geography of the place clear, but it doesn't. The international cast isn't all comfortable with the language/accents they've been asked to use. And it does what I ask my improv pupils NOT to do - over-explain everything, introduce themselves along with their plot function, and generally think of the audience as dunderheads who need everything spelled out for them. The lingering questions aren't a matter of ambiguity but of badly reasoned elements.



No one can go cuckoo-bananas with their films quite like M. Night Shyamalan. I love the dude for making movies like no one else. This one is all concept, and severely lacking in any kind of characterization. In one scene, several children were play-acting a short story with a war robot and a barbie doll having a domestic argument. This is a fitting analogy for the kind of character depth which you can expect to find within Old. It is a massively interesting film which quickly begins to tread water after the main concept has been established, and lacks any kind of emotional punch. All the while, the entire cast starts going nuts, with ludicrousness which borders on comedy.

Please, Mr Shyamalan, keep making these crazy movies! I'll keep watching them, happily.

4 days ago

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