Old

Old

This is me thinking out loud. My immediate response is that OLD feels like it is both Shyamalan's slightest and most emotionally driven work. However, only repeat viewings can lend this position any credence. This is perhaps due to what seems like a suturing together of distinctive elements of his films. OLD parallels THE VILLAGE in two significant ways: an isolated location that's protected and observed for unknown reasons AND a plot that is driven purely by emotional response and connection. But OLD is far less rigid than his previous work. There is a freedom present or a preoccupation with human emotion that overrides everything else (which is beautiful by the way). However, that reading doesn't account for the ways it matches THE VISIT by way of entering the world through the eyes of child siblings who must contend with age and death and OLD's final reveal is more like GLASS than any of his other work, particularly in its emphasis on institutions of power. But GLASS is his most unbalanced and messy film and OLD thrives in this same loose approach that frequently stalls out in GLASS. Honestly, his superhero trilogy is his least interesting work, but even as I write that I begin to doubt it. Thematically they are silly films, but his turn to bodies and physicality in SPLIT is truly breathtaking.

I wonder if this is what makes OLD so special, it's the first of Shyamalan's films that feels like something new made from an assembly of parts. I'll have to chew on this more as I continue to process it and see it again and again.

This is without question the work of a master. The delicate balance between the obvious and simple themes (not simplistic!) and the virtuoso camera work and style is truly breathtaking. Who else in the American cinema is using camera movement to create the effect of miracles? Maybe Eastwood? No one else comes to mind at the moment. But the layering of thematic elements into the script is so classical that to me it felt refreshing, but for (too many) others it feels, well, old fashioned. The museum curator stuck in the past and the insurance adjustor worried about the future and the children acting like neurotic adults and the repetition of themes of being in the moment and not letting life pass you by forms a sturdy foundation that allows Shyamalan and company to delve deep into expression. And this is a highly expressive and gestural cinema at work. The building of the sandcastle, the moment on the beach by the fire at night (I cried when Gael García Bernal looks at his son lovingly), the children holding each other in the hotel room, hands on objects, bellies, hands.

The horror twist ending almost feels incidental. Part of me wishes it ended on the beach without explanation, a resignation to aging and death. But I still dug it, regardless.

Similar to SPLIT and GLASS, this has the strongest emphasis on the physicality of the actors. Bodies and flesh are the effect and seeing them take shape in the camera work and close ups is definitely on another level here.

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