Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Ken Leung, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abbey Lee, Aaron Pierre, Alex Wolff, Embeth Davidtz, Eliza Scanlen, Emun Elliott, Kathleen Chalfant, and Thomasin McKenzie
Movie length: 1 hour 48 minutes
M. Night Shyamalan’s filmmaking calling card is the ‘twist.’ Starting with The Sixth Sense and moving to most of the rest of his movies, he sets up an interesting premise and then socks the viewer with (hopefully) a surprise. While his movies after The Sixth Sense (Unbreakable, Signs, The Village) also supplied a surprise, I personally felt each was a step down from the prior installment. Since twists are his thing, audiences have come to keep an eye out for them, which makes them harder to hide. This is because, love him or hate him, Shymalan’s twists are usually earned. He leaves the clues early in the movie, so you can go back and see where you should have figured out the end. When it works, it is what makes his good movies so great. In my humble opinion, Old is one of those movies.
Ultimately, this may not be the consensus opinion, but I will try to explain it without giving anything about the movie away (Shyamalan’s movies are much more fun if you don’t have them spoiled). Here are five spoiler free reasons why I liked Old:
1. The movie sets up a unique and mysterious problem that defies explanation.
2. A mysterious problem is no fun if the movie resorts to a cop out explanation. While avoiding explaining everything (which can be overkill), I felt the film provided a satisfying explanation.
3.Like The Sixth Sense, seemingly insignificant details in the slower first third of the film become relevant later on and tie the film together.
4. The film (at least through one viewing) maintains an internal logic. That is, it establishes clear rules and follows them.
5. While I figured out some things, the film managed to surprise me, particularly with the ending (I figured out The Village and it kind of ruined that movie for me). I watch a ton of movies, so I give points when I am surprised and it doesn’t feel cheap.
While Unbreakable, Split, and Glass are popular films, I didn’t like them as much as most people. My view of The Village is tainted by the fact that I figured it out. Signs was fine, but it just didn’t do it for me. I place Old second on my list of Shyamalan films, after The Sixth Sense. I suspect many will disagree with this ranking, but I am confident everyone will agree this film is far better than Lady in the Water, The Happening, and After Earth (which doesn’t fit his usual storytelling pattern and was so awful I actually enjoyed it if only to make fun of it). After hitting a prolonged slump, it seems M. Night has found his groove again, and that’s why I give Old an A.
Check out my audio review of the movie here: https://anchor.fm/darren-shulman/episodes/Old-Review-e14se4t/a-a5snddh
Old is now playing in theaters.
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