By Paul Hall
Vacation is a time people slow down, enjoying friends, family and the beauty of the world around us. Most vacations reinvigorate those who take them. But in the new film Old, from director M. Night Shyamalan, don’t expect a normal vacation.
In searching for a getaway, Prisca (Vicky Krieps) finds a beautiful resort that will make the perfect setting to slow down for her husband and children. Guy (Gael García Bernal) has felt the strain in his marriage to Prisca and, in fact, is on the verge of a separation with his wife. This vacation is one last good time with their kids to send them forward in life on a high note.
As the family searches for their first activities at the luxurious resort, the resort manager offers a suggestion for them. A beautiful cove and quiet beach is calling their name, and a quick van ride from the resort (with a certain director as the driver) will leave them in a peaceful locale with the ability to slow down.
Others have made their way to this secluded beach as well. There is the doctor and his young wife, a rapper and his girlfriend, a nurse and his wife all there to enjoy the moment and to slow down. Swimming in the beautiful water, relaxing on the luxurious beach and soaking up the glorious sunshine become everything they could ask for from a vacation. That is, until strange things begin to happen — the rapper’s girlfriend is dead and the vacationers start to lose their calm temperament. There is something else going on at this beach.
There is more going on than meets the eye in Old, but those of you who have experienced other films helmed by Shyamalan were already expecting that to be the case. He is a director who is known for his twists and dividing filmgoers and critics alike. Is it effective here? I think so, and here’s why: Excellent makeup and casting to allow the belief of the aging resort guests is essential to the film, and the filmmakers see to that here. I believed the look of the film, and that was step one to succeed.
The story of Old takes us inside our fears as people. Aging excites us when we are young, but we never really expect to grow up. Life changes as the muscles hurt a little more, the knees crack, and we start to physically break down. In this film the characters experience all that fear and anxiety. And when a film makes us a bit anxious, that means it succeeded.
Life comes at you fast and it’s how we handle the ups and downs that define us as people. Love or hate Old — you will definitely be talking about the film long after the credits roll.
Paul’s Grade: B
Stars: Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell
Director: M. Night Shyamalan