There are exactly two reactions coming out of an M. Night Shyamalan movie: Deeply satisfied or significantly duped.
For the former, a combination of a thrilling story, great acting, and a mind-blowing twist that people talk about for decades. For the latter, it’s disappointment and The Last Airbender.
For the past few years, M. Night has doing alright. From The Visit to Split to Glass, he has had a steady stream of good movies and it has been nice to see him on top form. But with this latest movie, can bring a new hit to shore.
Starring Vicky Krieps and Gael Garcia Bernal, Old revolves around a family who travel to a resort for the most picturesque holiday. When they head to a private beach, alongside another family and a couple, they discover they are stuck there – rapidly aging.
For all its positives, Shyamalan has an interesting concept (borrowed from the Sandcastle graphic novel by Frederik Peeters and Pierre Oscar Lévy) and some inventive cinematography. Shyamalan uses the camerawork as its own tool, using different perspectives and fluid shots to reveal more of the story. It’s almost like being in a videogame, where it is almost like the audience member is moving their head and looking across the scenery as more clues come into view. It’s an interesting and unique way of capturing a story that is mostly set in one location, giving the film a distinct visual experience.
Now the negatives. Trying to write this review without spoiling the ending, which is difficult because that is where the some of the frustration comes from. The storytelling is both slow and rapid; things consistently happen but we aren’t moving closer to finding out why or how? It spends far too much time showing that the beach makes you old. After the first few times, it begins to get tedious. Yes, we get it, this strange stretch of sand has you stranded in senescence, what are you really going to do about this?
The bad dialogue and script means these seasoned pros, which includes Abbey Lee and Rufus Sewell, feel like newcomers. The performers really flounder here, and the characters have no depth to them so, in the more emotional scenes, they are wasting both the situation and the actors. If the writing spent more time developing how the scenario is truly affecting these characters it would’ve been a much better exploration of the themes and horror.
The ending is really shoddy and rushed as well. That’s what all I can say for now but there are details that just frustrated me.
Perhaps this is my fault. I went into Old expecting the good old Shyamalan twist and, for better or worse, I got something different. Perhaps this movie is more of a mediation on life, ethics, and aging condensed into a beach outing.
Perhaps I am out of touch and I simply I don’t get it.
God, that made me sound old.