Old ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

#52FilmsByPOC 2021 pt. 32.

That's what I love about these pharmaceutical test subjects, man. They get older, I stay the same age.

What is up with M. Night Shyamalan's weird obsession with rappers?
--The Happening: Lead actor is a real-life rapper.
--After Earth: BOTH lead actors are real-life rappers.
--The Visit: A major character is a rapper for no plot-significant reason.
--Old: A major character is a rapper for no plot-significant reason.
Frfr I'm just trying get cast in his next movie.

Ever since his Blum-assisted low-budget renaissance in the form of The Visit (which seems to be a forgotten footnote ever since he resurrected the Unbreakable-verse), Shyamalan has become one of the least-hated most-hated filmmakers around. But between Glass's mixed reception and this one seeming poised to underperform, it's about time for the MNS defenders to reemerge, and I proudly count myself as one of them. He's one of the only directors working today who can be said to have developed a filmmaking style all his own (wide lenses, lots of lingering reaction shots, careful withholding of visual information) and his obsessive workouts on the art and science of storytelling are as rigorous as ever. Of all his films, this one makes by far the least sense (is the FDA not a thing in this world? clinical trials?), but how he gets where he's going is still magnificent.
The resonances with our Covid world are unmissable, from the satire of fast-track pharmaceutical development to the idea of missing out on your life while being stuck in one place, with nothing you can do about it. But aside from the focus on filmmaking as time dilation, I was most interested in the general human drama of aging, the relationship of mind and body (how much of maturity is physical brain growth, and how much is life experience?), and the acceptance of impermanence. How much people like this is going to depend on how willing they are to go along with Shyamalan's quirks--as with Tarantino, you can't get the brilliant shit without the goofy shit. Like rappers. Me, I'm more than happy to do so.

Cf. Cabin in the Woods