Well, I have a lot on my mind as I am leaving my 30s and transitioning into my 40s today. I am probably too young to say this, but there is an existential dread with getting older. The days can fly by, the beginning of the month becomes the end, and years can move quickly. My grandfather Miles once said to me as the day was winding down how he couldn’t believe he was already going to bed (at 8 pm) because he had just gotten up (at 9 am). He admitted that every day exhilarates from the last. It was when I truly realized that time moves faster when people get old. I cannot imagine the day moving as quickly as he described.
Time flies as we age, and it does in M Night Shyamalan’s Old. A cast of characters meet up and process a slow unraveling of sanity and time as things begin to happen. They have to make do with certain unexplained events that lead to chaos and madness for some and confusion for everyone. I was a big fan of TV’s Lost back when it aired on ABC. It brought together a diverse cast of characters with baggage and a backstory on a mysterious island. Old reminded me of that series with how it unfolded, what it revealed, and ultimately how it ended. Viki Krieps was my favorite performance, and the moment she watches her children grow had an emotional impact.
I was thoroughly entertained and captivated on the edge of my seat during most of the running time. I was enraptured with every preposterous moment while watching Old. It featured some gruesome and unsettling death scenes that were jarring to me. A sign that I was into this thriller? I wanted to get up a few times to refill my drink, and I stayed to see what happened. Every moment I wanted to leave, I would’ve missed a plot development or a character reveal. In an era when distracted viewers have a hard time concentrating during a streaming movie, this is a significant compliment.
The talented M. Night Shyamalan is a director I have been rooting for forever, following his glorious breakout in the late 90s. He has tried new things yet is also stuck in repeating his success. Lightning rarely strikes twice. In Old, he explores life and death and indulges in filmmaker tricks like up-close shots, rushed plot development, and bizarre character motivations. Here his extended cameo was a little distracting and a lower point. It was like he was too involved and needed “Old” to mature naturally.
Watching the characters rapidly age on screen made me think about my mortality. The last time I had a birthday movie on the big screen was a fun gathering and advanced screening of Tarantino’s most recent film. It was fun but felt like a lifetime ago. The pandemic accelerated things and made me reflect on life even more than I typically do. Shyamalan goes to uncomfortable places that I felt, and I was reminded about getting older. Our lives may move fast, but at least I could take time to reflect on big themes and my own experiences.