Let’s face it, growing old isn’t nice, but this offering from M. Night Shyamalan is simply ridiculous.
Guy (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Prisca Capa (Vicky Krieps) have taken their two children, 11-year-old daughter Maddox and six-year-old Trent, on a luxurious tropical island holiday. The husband and wife are on the verge of separating, but have decided to take one last trip as a family before telling the kids. The hotel manager informs them of a special secluded beach on the other side of the island. They and a handful of other guests choose to visit.
Among them are Charles (Rufus Sewell), a cardio-thoracic surgeon with serious mental health issues, and his younger wife Chrystal (Abbey Lee). Already on the beach is a rap artist with a blood disorder who goes by Mid-Sized Sedan (Aaron Pierre). They’re later joined by a male nurse, Jarin (Ken Leung), and his wife Patricia (Nikki Amuka-Bird), a psychologist who suffers from epileptic fits. It’s not long before things start to get seriously crazy.
First, they discover a woman’s body washed ashore. Then, one by one, those on the beach inexplicably start to age (two years every hour, that is about 50 years in a day). The beach is surrounded by a high wall of rocks and at one point a member of the group speculates that it could be the minerals in them that has resulted in their predicament. Regardless, before you know it, many are dropping like flies and they remain trapped with no way out.
Old is based on a 2011 graphic novel, Sandcastle, by French writer Pierre Oscar Lévy and artist Frederik Peeters. A feeling of unease permeates the film’s start. It’s written all over Prisca’s face. Something is amiss, but we’re not sure what. That, in itself, makes for a promising, if decidedly awkward, start. The concept of ageing may have been a decent starting point, but the script has more holes in it than Swiss cheese. The leaps of faith required to buy what Shyamalan is selling are beyond the pale.
The whole piece felt awkward and doesn’t hang together like a good movie should. Even the edit points are haphazard. What’s become of the accomplished filmmaker Shyamalan once was? We do get plot closure before the final credits, but by then it’s way too late to rescue the film.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.