“Old” (M) *
THE filmography of Indian-born (in 1970) and Pennsylvania (US)-raised M Night Shyamalan lists 17 titles as writer/director. His style is best described as contemporary supernatural. Several of them are clever. “Old” is not.
“Old” unfolds on an idyllic island, perhaps in the Caribbean Sea, where several families (moms, pops, kids of various ages) of well-heeled Yanks and Poms, hitherto unknown to each other, have come for a day at the beach.
Little do they know that today, strange events are unfolding.
People on the beach are ageing at a rate much higher than normal. And none of their attempts to escape back to the hotel is working. Which is pretty weird by any measure, emphasised by the academic and professional qualifications that many of the adults find it necessary to proclaim as the day progresses. These are high flyers, as they’re quick to remind each other.
Shyamalan found the plot for his movie in a graphic novel “Sandcastle” by Pierre-Oscar Lévy and Frederick Peeters. “Graphic novel” is an escape mechanism, story-telling for people who need to see pictures rather than read words. People of all ages will be enjoying fantasy stories by the great story-tellers long after graphic novels have gone out of fashion.
The actors playing characters in “Old” move about the screen like marionettes or, when stationary, form groups like rookies waiting to learn how to stand like soldiers. Their dialogue lacks rigour, expressing conclusions not supported by rational enquiry then acting on them as though they show the path to salvation. Kid stuff.
On a cold, wet morning, I was delayed reaching the cinema and missed about the first eight or 10 minutes of “Old”. If those minutes introduced the people hiding in the shrubbery on top of the hill who were observing events on the beach, what followed after I arrived may have made more sense. In any event, I didn’t see them close up until what in a live-theatre performance would have been Act 3.
Spoiler alert? Not really.
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Ian Meikle, editor