M. Night Shyamalan has made a new movie, and there’s really only one question: Why the hell would you click to read about it before? Haven’t you learned by now that the goal of Shyamalan’s films is to walk knowing as little as possible?
I can understand trying to sniff if this is one of your good ones, like The sixth Sense or Signals, or one of your baddies, like Lady in the water or The last Airbender. So I’ll get to the point: Old it’s good. Is very good. Now get out of here before it’s too late.
Ah, but there are times when simply wanting to leave is not enough. There is no escape from the rushing stream of time, and for the characters of Old There is no escape from a private beach which, for reasons I suppose one might call implausible, causes the cells in your body to age at supersonic speeds. At one point, your adorable six-year-old is whimpering “are we there yet?” way to a tourist center; the next minute, he’s a teenager impregnating another fast-growing person.
Guy (Gael Garcia Bernal), an actuary of mild manners, and Prisca (Vicky krieps), curator of a museum, their two young sons, Trent (Nolan River) and Maddox (Alexa swinton) to this nameless island paradise in an attempt to cement a final good memory before they drop the bomb they are separating. A friendly conciergeGustaf Hammarsten) recommends spending the day in a secluded cove surrounded by exotic rocks. Joining them is a conceited surgeon (Rufus sewell), his trophy wife (Abbey lee), her little daughter (Mikaya fisher), his mother (Kathleen Chalfant) And her dog. Others appear, like a nurse (Ken leung), his therapist wife (Nikki Amuka-Bird), and a rapper with the incredible handling of a midsize sedan (Aaron Pierre). Shortly after walking through the stone canyon to the beautiful lagoon, they discover his first corpse.
This leads to panic and mistrust, but before the movie becomes a detective story (or when it isn’t), the old woman dies too. What was overwhelmed by the shock of the hideous floating corpse? Before we can get into that, how weird, now the dog is dead too. And all the kids feel funny. In fact, Maddox, who was 11 years old just a minute ago, has now transformed into a 20-year-old. Thomasin McKenzie. Fortunately, Mom has a second swimsuit to loan to her daughter.
Although everyone tries to leave, they simply cannot: any attempt to cross the rocky perimeter around the beach causes a blackout. Soon, everyone realizes that they are aging at an alarming rate. And like their bodies, Shyamalan’s script, based on a French graphic novel called Sandcastle, hit the gas on just about every physical and psychological complication you can imagine: poor vision, dull hearing, hunched backs (those early jokes about calcium supplements weren’t jokes!), dementia, the aforementioned rushing puberty.
Slowly, our heroes discover what exactly is happening and, over time, why it’s happening. Yes, there is an “aha!” in the end, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a satisfying conclusion. More importantly, the journey to him is exciting, and Shyamalan, whose past involvement as an actor in his own projects hasn’t always been connected, finally casts himself the role he was born for. (There is also a very nice and very small paper for Francesca Eastwood, Clint’s Surprising Daughter).
There is a long list of influences at play here, from Luis Buñuel Exterminating angel to EM Forster’s A passage to India (seriously) to at least three different Star trek episodes of The original series through Traveler. Shyamalan extracts new information in the right doses, remembering all the time that this is, in essence, a B image. It’s not gory, but it’s gross, and the camera knows how much to show to keep us tagged.
This is also a movie in which audience participation is encouraged. Although I looked at home, in a link provided to critics, I still yelled at my laptop at least three times. There is enough in Old that feels new.
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