In the opening pages of “Dino”, a 1992 biography of Dean Martin by Nick Tosches, the author quotes a haunting Italian phrase: “La vecchiaia è carogna”. “Old age is a carrion.”
When vacationing families are dropped off at a secluded beach recommended to them by a resort manager in “Old,” the new movie written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, we see a trio of vultures on top of a tree soar in the sky.
Soon after, unusual things start to happen. Guy and Prisca’s young children (Gael García Bernal and Vicky Krieps, both stunning, just like the entire cast) feel their jerseys tightening. An epileptic psychologist (Nikki Amuka-Bird) unexpectedly finds herself symptom-free. The elderly mother of a fussy doctor’s trophy wife just got up and died. A moderately famous rap star (Aaron Pierre), who had come to the beach a few hours before, wanders confused, with an incurable nosebleed. The corpse of his companion is discovered in the water, prompting the doctor (Rufus Sewell) to accuse the rapper of murder.
Over time – not too much time, because in this case it is essential in this situation – swimmers find that they are aging at an accelerating rate. Half an hour is equivalent to about a year.
And the beach that ages them won’t let them go.
Some vacation. Shyamalan adapted his disturbing tale from the graphic novel “Sandcastle”, by French writer Pierre Oscar Lévy and Swiss illustrator Frederik Peeters. As is often the case with comics produced in France, “Sandcastle” is an austere existentialist parable. (It might not be a coincidence that the book that Krieps’ character tries to read on the beach is a double biography of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.) Shyamalan develops the book the way we do. might expect an American filmmaker to do it, among other things. things, ultimately offering some sort of explanation that the source material does not.
Being PG-13, “Old” doesn’t dwell, as the graphic novel does, on how rapid aging affects children of this set in the hormonal department once they reach adolescence, though. that a pregnancy occurs during the common life of the victims. in one day. Instead, the film delves into the tremendous anxiety and fear felt and magnified by adults who bicker frequently. Because the weather is rushed here, the wounds heal incredibly quickly. The director exploits that for some weirdly heart-wrenching knife fights and an impromptu surgery scene. The horrific potential of breaking bones and then instant resetting incorrectly does not go unnoticed.
Shyamalan’s fluid directing style, whose standout features are an almost always mobile camera and a bag of focusing tricks, serves him particularly well here. Sometimes the camera swings back and forth like a ticking pendulum (you get it?) And comes back to where it started to reveal a terrifying change. The way he changes his actors as their characters age is seamless. (The filmmaker’s work in the verbal department is not so happy. He names Pierre’s rap star “Mid-Sized Sedan”; very early on one character complains to another: “You always think about the future, and it gives me the impression of not being seen. ”)
If old age is carrion, it’s also, as one character in “Citizen Kane” puts it, the one disease you don’t look forward to curing, which gives the film’s finale the impetus. While Shyamalan is often cited for his difficult endings, it’s arguable that he doesn’t quite stick to landing with this one. It adds to the story a dollop of that much revered Hollywood merchandise, Hope, and also distributes anti-science propaganda that couldn’t be more intrusive at this particular moment in the real world.
Rated PG-13 for horrific imagery, language, and aging. Duration: 1 hour 48 minutes. In theaters.