Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Story By: M. Night Shyamalan, Pierre-Oscar Lévy, and Frederick Peeters.
Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Abbey Lee, Emun Elliott, Alexa Swinton, Kailen Jude, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ken Leung, and Aaron Pierre.
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I’ve been out of the loop for a while regarding M. Night Shyamalan and his work as of recently. The last I heard, folks were starting to be on the fence with him with #AfterEarth, but then started have faith again with #Split? And there were mixed reviews for #Glass? But anyway…
When I saw the trailer for Old, I was immediately hooked. I found the concept to be super interesting, plus I do think I am fan of M. Night Shyamalan a little—I loved 6th Sense, After Earth, Signs, The Last Airbender, Stuart Little, and She’s All That (Yep, I was today years old when I found out he did a rewrite of this).
This film really has me on the fence. There are aspects that I found to be really good, and there are aspects that were super boring, cringy, and just “bad” to me.
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Below are my grades for key components in #Old that I find to be key in any story/film/series—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character Arc/Development.
Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. The scale range consists of: Worth the Watch/$$$, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start), Wait for Streaming, Don’t Rush, & Don’t Watch.
I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale.
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Plot & Story: D
Character Arc/Development: A-
General Entertainment Factor: Don’t Watch
Film Enthusiast Entertainment Factor: Wait for Streaming
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1. The messaging of this film had some really good potential. I found that the film looked at the topic of aging from two points—1. Embracing/appreciating the different age-stages of our lives; and 2. Accepting the different age-stages of our lives, and every-/any- thing that comes with getting older or being younger.
The first topic of aging is best executed to me in Act One with most of the imagery focusing on the free, imaginative and explorative spirit of childhood. The second topic of aging is best executed to me starting in the later half of Act Two through the imagery of adults either downplaying or trying to avoid their personal challenges with age/their individual ages. Act Three also does a pretty good job with the second theme via our main characters Guy and Prisca. 👍🏾
My issue was that there was so much focus on the suspense of the setting, and then this “twist” in Act Three that completely shifts the whole focus on the title and themes, in my opinion. The messaging just ends up being neglected for this “mad surprise.”🤦🏾♂️
2. Chile! Not Trent and Kara in that damn tent. Where was the adult supervision!? 😩😂😂
3. One of the most beautifully edited shots was the “fall with the tides of the ocean” I just remember sitting back like, “wow that was so clever, and quite poetic.”👍🏾
4. When looking at the film’s attempt to follow its title, I find the pacing to be pretty solid. I felt like I was “aging gracefully” with the characters while also living in their panic and problem solving. 👍🏾
Now, the film did feel a little too long. There were a few moments throughout each Act that I felt could’ve been left out or edited differently. Also, the direction of the resort was clearly opposite of “the planned position.” So, how did Act Three’s ending even happen? 🤨🤨
5. Mid-Sized Sedan is beautiful! But that acting, and him constantly saying “damn”—Terrible. 🥴😩🤦🏾♂️
6. The star of this film was Rufus Sewell! That man was absolutely amazing! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾🙌🏾
7. It was so interesting seeing Abbey Lee in this role after loving her in Lovecraft Country. I definitely enjoyed her. 👍🏾
8. Okay, so the foundation of the story is good—We have a mother and father who takes their family on a vacation after coming across an online deal for a resort. While vacationing, the family and others are invited to a private beach for some added excited that, unbeknownst to them, causes unexplainable body reactions. 👍🏾
However, what gets/feels messy for me is the story’s incisions across the later half of Act One onward in order to make Act Three’s “discovery” make sense. These incisions weren’t even performed, nor carried through well, by the characters to make me feel invested in its purpose to the story. Honestly, I watched with a disappointed and shocked frown for most of Act Two. And because I am a sucker for a good twist, I found myself revived in Act Three for a short time. 🤷🏾♂️
BUT… the story by Act Two is just one part of the problem. The other—The writing. Trash. At first, I thought it was the acting. But then I started really paying attention to the moments of tension between characters, and immediately recognized the terrible writing. My Goodness! Every time Prisca screamed, I cringed. When Patricia was trying to make sense of what was going on, I cringed. When Mid-Sized Sedan spoke…I cringed. Just UGH! 🥴🤦🏾♂️👎🏾
9. Trent screaming, talking about he’s marrying Kara was so funny to me. That moment, and the snippet we get that led to that moment with Kara and Trent was funny and interesting, too. 😂
10. The character development was possibly the best thing about this film, especially when following Guy, Prisca, and most definitely Charles! The cinematography brilliantly added what was needed for me as a member of the audience to experience Guy’s character development, the sound mixing, production and design elevated my ability to experience Prisca’s development (as well as how her moment was shot by Shyamalan), and Rufus Sewell’s acting delivered his character development damn well! I was truly in awe of these key components. 👏🏾👏🏾🙌🏾
Additionally, even the scenes shot with Guy and Prisca together while these aspects of their character development were active were some of the most subtle, yet amazing moments. 👍🏾👍🏾
The only concern I had was with Mid-sized Sedan’s development with the overall premise especially considering when he arrived and the slight inconsistency with the possible reason for his development… 🤔
11. However, to piggyback off of point #10, how was she not able to be responsive when Charles was going crazy by the fire, but was able to be responsive by the ocean? They were the exact same distance.🤔🤨
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Overall, #Old gives Agatha Christie’s Then There Were None- meets 2020’s The Father – meets Twilight Zone-meets I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. If anything, this film’s strength lies in the cinematography, sound production, sound design, and sound mixing. Additionally, Rufus Sewell was superb! Other than that, #Old feels experimental.
I feel this would’ve made a really great mini-series, or even a very interesting indie-film or short with appropriate editing for better cohesion as a story. I’m a little disappointed that I spent theater coin to see this.