The hot summer of Shyamalan is here with Old, a dizzying, often nightmarish reminder of our own mortality – in all of its grace, madness and horror.
About 20 years ago, Leonardo DiCaprio walked the ethereal sands of his heyday in The beach. His arrival, listening to Moby’s Porcelain, is the closest I have felt to true cinematic peace.
Oldthe shores are not pure; they are perishable, mystifying and cruel, with thumping drums, crashing waves and the constant stench of death in the air, like the Reaper’s Haven. (Badly) luckily we all go on summer vacation with M. Night; full of worries for me and you, for a life or two.
Three years after its conclusion Eastrail 177 with Glass – we will not talk about it – the most twisted filmmaker of today is back. From the graphic novel Sand castle, it’s a simple premise that taps into a universal fear: two families take a trip to a beautiful cove where people age in a single day, leaving rot and bones in their wake.
It’s a cast of stars, the exact nature of their roles that I won’t necessarily reveal: Gael Garcia Bernal; Vicky Krieps; Thomasin McKenzie; Alex Wolff; Eliza Scanlen; Embeth Davidtz (yes, Miss Honey!); Rufus Sewell; and Abbey Lee Kershaw, among others. Of course, M. Night also makes an appearance.
The younger members of the ensemble are charged with the hard work, which they do with aplomb. McKenzie, a prodigy destined for the summits after Leaves no trace and Bunny Jojo, and Hereditary‘s Wolff handles delicate complexities in their performances that could so easily have folded into a off-putting and whimsical melodrama. Scanlen is equally impressive, with one scene leaving me bowled over in disbelief and another curled up from Middle skies.
The characters of Krieps and Bernal are less conspicuous, although the Phantom wire star is a convincing actor. Average and sometimes awkward handwriting keeps them from making a big impression, while Sewell’s expertise as a first-class bellend is slightly hampered by a rough plot and the hammering of a “bit” that never really connects. , much like Vince Vaughn constantly saying “anchovies”. ‘ in Dragged through concrete.
While this may not be the finest demonstration of Shyamalan’s calligraphy, his craft is on fire: split diopters here, there, and everywhere; follow-up of shots through reflections; disorienting and unpredictable camera work with his DP Mike Gioulakis; and evoking an almost permanent feeling of unease from the first minutes, leaving you just as breathless, dazed and confused as any escaped bather.
To divide might not be the prettiest entry in her filmography, but her DNA is evident in Oldhorror of the body. Not Cronenbergian, but sneaky and a little (or a lot) disgusting – I haven’t quite spent a moment in a match-lit cave yet. It’s one thing for a movie to revolve around the inevitability of death, it’s another to make audiences physically uncomfortable, whether it’s busting, locking limbs. or the simple clicking of bones wrapped in a blanket.
After all of that, the ending will probably be divisive – for me, that doesn’t add up to the landing. But coming out of cinemas in the mid-year sun, after a year and a half of misery, there is something daring about a movie so focused on our weak bodily.
Old is vintage Shyamalan, in sickness, health and everything in between. Like Ferris said, life goes pretty fast.