Narrow Gauge Reviews: M. Night Shyamalan’s “Old”

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The direction of M. Night Shyamalan’s recent film “Old” seems to be a thought-provoking mystery of the beach that the Cappa family have found themselves on, but turns out to be somewhat of a commentary on humanity’s ethics. The Cappa’s appear to be ordinary, with two young kids and parents who seem to be struggling with their relationship. Before announcing their divorce to their children – Prisca Cappa (Vicky Krieps) and Guy Cappa (Gael García Bernal) – decide to go on vacation. Once the family and a group of other vacationers make it to the beach, they discover that the mysterious beach accelerates their aging process leaving them to die with no way of escape.

“Old” centers heavily on the shock factor, creating almost a tumble-down effect in the sequence of events. The film’s development mirrors the movie’s essential plot, once people start to age there is no way to reverse it. The movie’s two hours speeds by from one inciting incident to the next. That energy really worked to captivate my attention for the duration of the film. The way that Shyamalan uses quiet almost dystopian shots in the film enhances the viewer’s feelings of spectatorship.

We, the watchers, become an intrusive and prevalent presence, by the camera’s nature of not trying to exist at all. When you discover the secrets of the beach’s purpose at the end of the film makes our role as a viewer even more startling. In some ways, we become part of the people we end up villainizing. I believe this is Shyamalan’s intent with the camera angles adjusted to feel like surveillance, to further create a commentary on the film’s shocking antagonist. Ourselves.

A scene from “Old.”
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