Old Joy

"Excellent"

Old Joy Review


A beer cozy that one of the characters in Old Joy holds says "Whatever Happened, I Didn't Do It!" It's a small detail, but it is crucial to understanding Kelly Reichardt's tale of a burnt-out friendship trying to get sparked on a trip to a hot springs in the woods of Oregon.

Mark (Daniel London) meditates on the back lawn of his tiny suburban home in the rainy desolation of Portland. Unlike his old best friend Kurt (Will Oldham), Mark has become a modern man: He has a wife, a kid on the way, and watches his health with a focused eye. Kurt, on the left hand, still makes his bed in his van or on a random friend's floor, has a hash pipe glued to his mouth, and still detests cell phones. It is Kurt's idea for them to hike into the maze of green foliage in the Oregon forest to find the hot springs they are so mildly excited about, accompanied by Mark's dog Lucy.

Reichardt spends as much time studying the subtle tension between the two friends as she does staring at the dreary Midwest scenery (often from a moving car window). Inside the small car, NPR pumps through the ragged speakers and Kurt talks lovingly of their old friend Yogi and how he might have gotten laid the last time he saw him; all Mark can remember is how Yogi owes him 200 bucks. Reichardt spends more time listening to the sounds of the forest and the air outside the car than their dialogue. In fact, the only time that the subject of their dissolved relationship is breached is when Kurt drunkenly says, "I miss you, man." The rest of the film majors in small grunts of resentment and minor stabs at lifestyle choices; when Mark asks for dry toast at breakfast, Kurt snidely says, "I'll have mine wet."

Only when the two men are at the hot springs do they seem really at peace. A moment of physical contact freaks out Mark, but he gently calms down and allows Kurt his relaxation techniques. Kurt also recalls a dream where an old Indian woman comforts him by saying, "Sorrow is just worn-out joy." The images of the film recall the quote vividly; the forests and the scattered two-bedroom shacks in the middle of nowhere share a certain sense of regret with the two lost friends.

Reichardt's small film (it clocks in at a paltry 76 minutes) doesn't have the poetic ache of films with similar tone but rather has the feeling of its source material: a short story. We're embedded in the dampness of Reichardt's smoky forest, but not for long enough so we're lost like the pair. The small town where both men reside also recalls a college town (Ithaca instantly springs to mind) and again gives off the radiance of a time that has passed. Kurt wants to salvage this feeling, this time, because it's what he remembers as real joy. But Mark has found a new happiness of sorts in his blossoming family, and as much as he likes to oblige Kurt, we can see that the hot springs mean more to him than Kurt does. Like Mark's beer cozy admits for him: "Whatever Happened, I Didn't Do It!"



Old Joy

Facts and Figures

Run time: 76 mins

In Theaters: Friday 26th January 2007

Budget: $300 thousand

Distributed by: Kino International

Production compaines: Washington Square Films, Film Science, Van Hoy/Knudsen Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 73 Rotten: 13

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Lars Knudsen, Neil Kopp, Anish Savjani, Jay Von Hoy

Starring: as Mark, Will Oldham as Kurt, Tanya Smith as Tanya, Robin Rosenberg as Waitress, Keri Moran as Lawnmower, Autumn Campbell as Diner Patron, Steve Doughton as Diner Patron, Matt McCormick as Weed Salesman, Darren Prolsen as Homeless Man, Jillian Wieseneck as Diner Patron

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

Advertisement
The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Partisan Movie Review

Partisan Movie Review

With his feature debut, young Australian filmmaker Ariel Kleiman tells a creepy story about a...

The Revenant Movie Review

The Revenant Movie Review

A wrenching saga of survival and revenge, Alejandro G. Inarritu's new epic is just as...

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

Quentin Tarantino is a filmmaker who simply can't be ignored, especially when he lobs a...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.