Melvin Benson’s review published on Letterboxd:
I'll start by describing Old (and conversely, Shyamalan in his current directorial iteration) in the way I was telling a friend:
"It has all the things people often don't like with Shyamalan: weird dialogue, simple characters, baffling cinematography, strange plot points, and all around feels like an alien made it. But, if you've accepted Shyamalan for what he's done the last few years, you'll have a great time."
"Shyamalan is great at making movies that make great trailers."
As for Old itself, like, you know, my thoughts. I had a good time. It grew on me (pun intended, collective groan heard loud and clear). I settled into it well enough but found myself really clicking with a lot of the momentary lines of dialogue and even the camera work which often feels as though it has no focus, but at other times feels like that is its focus.
Old, clearly, deals with the fear of aging. It deals with the fear of time, change, life surprises, and the inevitability of entropy. Old displays the lack of power anyone has over, well, anything. If time were expedited even momentarily beyond the beach, man could not exist. Pondering the frailty of humanity, even if it's wholly unrealistic, is a humbling and harrowing experience, and Old really gets the neurons bursting (sometimes, in more ways than one. Thanks Shyamalan).
When it comes to the camera work, there seems to be a focus on the little things we notice in each other and ourselves as we grow. Wrinkles beside the eyes, our hands seem like someone else's (que Phyllis in The Office when the Vance's and Halpert's get dinner), and parts of us seem to be whisked away. When Old is at its best, it's scenes that could be stripped from a short film displaying the lack of senses that take place when people get older. These scenes kept clicking with me every time they happened and I was finding myself deeply emotional and incredibly connected to the theme within the film even when it's surrounded by nonsense.
Lines like the daughter walking away bitterly going something along the lines of, "I'm an adult now, I have to keep it all together" break my heart. My wife sounds like that all the time and we're often having to deconstruct that completely false idea of herself, that she needs to have it all together. Or other lines where families are keeping secret the shame they have, and how that bubbles out at the most inopportune times. I don't know, it all worked for me in snippits.
There are also some bonafide awesome scenes such as, basically, the creation of a cave hag. The second that scene started I just out-loud went, "Awesome" and was so excited to see what would happen next. And even the ending, which I'm sure people found divisive like Glass's ending (even a bit, and this isn't spoilers, but even a bit too similar in some cases) I sorta thought was clever. Unlike Glass, where it's ending didn't really have much to do with the movie itself, Old's ending actually kept in theme with the concept of aging (or, the fear of aging). I liked it. Or, maybe, I just accept it. Who knows.
But, Old definitely has one of my favorite lines in a movie all year. "I forget the word for how I feel about you." or, something along those lines. I hope I didn't forget it, but I suppose that would be in theme. What a great line.
Old is decent. It's more Shyamalan than conventional, but it's not so Shyamalan that it's incomprehensible. I enjoy Shyamalan because I enjoy the way auteurs see the world, and Shyamalan is most definitely an auteur even if many think he's not very good. But, what is good, anyway? In the sense of media. Like, if it isn't immoral, than I would have difficulty calling it bad.
Oh, last thing: bummed Shyamalan had PG-13 nudity. Just, idk, feels weird. His use of female nudity is both completely unnecessary and deeply troublesome as it continues the horrendous trend of portraying dead women (specifically, dead naked or beautiful women) in film. This fetishizing of "the loss of beauty" through the portrayal of naked or objectified women is continually frustrating.
Simultaneously, Old is a very body-conscious movie. I'm not so sure we live in a time where people can handle that. I don't think Shyamalan is sexualizing anyone, because the premise of the film is so much about age that we can't ignore how the body displays this, but I think he's produced a movie for a culture that doesn't know how to portray literally anyone's body without it being questionably problematic, whether it be the adults in the movie or the minors.
Nonetheless, Old is fine. I had a good time with it and found it very effective for me. Though, I'm not sure I'll ever watch it again.
As for The Happening, however... I will watch that on repeat till the end of time.
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