Thursday, July 12, 2007

OLD JOY - great concept but a little trying

As a cinephile I feel I should really love perverse little films like OLD JOY, but while I admire its perversity, the high-art concept tried my patience.

It opens with Daniel London's character Mark having a terse conversation with his wife. An old friend has been in touch wanting to go on a camping trip. The wife is clearly not happy but Mark sets off. Will Oldham plays the friend, Kurt. They two may once have been close but now Kurt a bearded drifter who rambles on about nothing in particular. So follows an 70 minute lament for friends who no longer have anything in common. Old joys have turned to sorrow.

The evocative sound track is by Yo La Tengo. The sound design captures every bird-song and insect chirrup. The Super 16 photography beautifully captures the lush Oregon forest. Caterpillars crawling along grass and leaves reflected in water are shown in loving close-ups. Whole swathes of the movie are long, patient tracking shots of the protagonists driving or hiking. For those who look for it there is an interesting homo-erotic sub-text. The central performances are well done. But my god is it dull.

OLD JOY was released in the UK in January 2007 and opens in France next week. It is available on DVD.

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