We watched Old last night and, overall, really liked it. And, overall, the response of viewers and critics to the movie has been harsh and negative.
As a writer, I approach movies and books somewhat differently. There’s entertainment value, which I think we all share. But I also search for the core idea in every work and then how that idea is buttressed by story and characterization.
The idea in Old is great in that it allows a story to explore aging and how people change, or don’t, over time, in a compressed format.
M. Night Shyamalan burst on the scene with Sixth Sense. Which had a remarkable twist in it. Ever since then, I’m not sure he’s lived up to the promise. One good idea can make a career and he’s proof. We see that in the entertainment field.
The idea of rapid aging in Old and how a handful of characters react to it while under a stressful situation was great. But as a story-teller, it leaves a lot to be desired. You can see him setting up later reveals and scenes rather clumsily. When the two boys run around the resort pool asking everyone what they do for a living, it was cringe-worthy. Especially when you realize what it’s the set-up for at the end. There are a number of scenes like this.
There are enough plot holes, that there is more hole than plot. There were inconsistencies in the basic premise and how it played out on the characters. Off the top of my head—how did this effect actually transport people back to the beach, besides aging them?
But offsetting that, my wife and I enjoyed some of the character arcs. Well, okay. One. Prisca and Guy were interesting and were allowed to live to near the end. The rest went down in various ways. How people react in a crisis was also an interesting sidebar to the story.
Overall? If you’ve got nothing better to do, it’s not bad. A lukewarm recommendation at best. Shyamalan really needs to team up his ideas with a plot person. There were two other writers on this, which was based on a graphic novel. Perhaps the story didn’t translate as well to film as other graphic novels?