Sunday 31 October 2021

Old (2021)

We can often rely on M Night Shyamalan to offer the audience a twist and turn, even jaw-dropping 'didn't see it coming' moment, like The Sixth Sense and The Village. When I watch a new film of his, I'm always hoping for that - but it doesn't always come. Maybe it will this time.

The story is a simple one, based on the graphic novel 'Sandcastle' by Pierre-Oscar Lévy and Frederik Peeters. A bunch of people go on holiday. They are welcomed and the very next day, offered an opportunity for an exclusive day out at a beach the other side of the island where most guests are not allowed. The manager of the hotel tells them that they're being offered this speciality as he, well, likes the cut of their jib!

The hotel mini-bus drops them all off and they have to walk through some caves/cliffs/rocks to get to the enclosed bay/cove. It's idyllic and beautiful. The driver tells them that he will be back to collect the group at the end of the day.

As the day starts, they all have fun and enjoy their time along with the giant picnic which the hotel has sent along with them. Then the trouble starts. They start ageing at a rapid pace. There's one older woman who was the first to go as she was the oldest. The children suddenly become teenagers. Behaviours start to change. A body washes up on the shore.

Long-standing conditions which various members of the group have are made worse. Then they notice an 'observation area' on a distant hillside and think they are being watched. They start to try to get away from the beach but attempts to do so end up in one disaster or another. They just get old, quickly. I won't say any more about the plot for obvious reasons.

The location makes for some lovely visual offerings and on top of that there's some arty photography used as well. Nice shots, unusual angles and close-ups to enhance the drama of what's going on - and the horror and realisation of what is happening by the group.
There aren't really any huge Hollywood names in the cast but Rufus Sewell leaps out (The Illusionist, Judy), Nikki Amuka-Bird (Gold Digger) and Eliza Scanlen (Babyteeth) whilst Gael García Bernal and Vicky Krieps play the central Guy and Prisca roles.

The whole cast does well as various actors leap in and out of different roles of ageing kids. They all look strong and competent in what they do, convincing the audience of this off-the-wall yarn. It is a fantasy and I can tell you that there is, of course, something at the end of it which I didn't see coming, but probably the sharper of you might well do. It's certainly worth a look but not the quality of some of his earlier work. What I do like is that it is an idea though and M Night Shyamalan can be relied on the bring us something different and interesting. He's a good storyteller.

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