julianblair’s review published on Letterboxd:
The themes and setting of this film made me think of Studio Ghibli's The Red Turtle (2016), a bittersweet favorite of mine. M. Night Shyamalan gives us those wistful themes (in accelerated form), embedded in a tale that is at once mystery, science fiction, and, for moments at least, horror.
Shyamalan adapted a Swiss Graphic novel, Sandcastles, as a source, but Old is full of his storytelling flourishes....and of course, a twist ending. I think M.Night's dependency on high-impact twists dooms him at times because if the twist doesn't amaze properly, people feel the film is a wash.
I was more than okay with the twist here (though it is rather implausible). The film may not be his greatest, but I will say this: if Old was a Blumhouse production (with no M. Night), I think a lot of viewers would have given it higher marks. He has set the bar so high.
Though Old gives us an ensemble cast, the soulful Gael Garcia Bernal (and his family) are the locus of the story. Young Thomasin McKenzie, however, gives a rather impressive performance in her role, one that would challenge any actor.
I am glad that M.Night is out there. Every few years he returns to regale us with a new cinematic tale....even the fair to middling ones are always stimulating to me, on some level. If M. Night lived a millennium ago, I think he would have been the village storyteller. Though he has reaped a fortune from his films, I imagine he would still need to entertain an audience, even if it wasn't so lucrative.