Running time:108 minutes
Director:M. Night Shyamalan
Release date:23 july 2021
On vacation in the tropics, a family stops for a few hours on an isolated atoll where they discover with horror that their aging is drastically accelerated and that their entire life will be reduced to this one final day.

Mulder's Review

M. Night Shyamalan has established himself over the years as one of the most interesting directors whose filmography contains several undeniable timeless successes such as The Sixth Sense (1999), Unbreakable (2000), Signs (2002), Split (2017) or more recently Glass (2019). Certainly his films seem to be set on a model that has its own artistic patte with elements to be taken into account throughout the story and an explanation in the last minutes to make the audience understand that everything that unfolds before his eyes has a real importance in the construction of the story. Certainly some of his films have not met the success they deserved or have proved disappointing, whether it is The Village (2002), Phenomena (Th happening) (2008), The Last Airbender (2010), After Earth (2013), yet it is undeniable that M. Night Shyamalan is an outstanding storyteller and director. How not to see in him a worthy descendant of Alfred Hitchcock. It is not a coincidence that in each of his films, he appears for a sequence (or even several as in Old) in order to mark each of his films with his personal stamp. 

Certainly Old is not M. Night Shyamalan's best film as it lacks rhythm at times and seems to stretch out indefinitely on many occasions. In the same way the dialogues often sound false and the casting is not convincing enough to hold our attention. The graphic novel Château de Sable (2010) by Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederik Peeters was a real thriller on a paradisiacal beach in which the destiny of several characters would be confronted with fantastic elements linked to an acceleration of time that will make 24 hours correspond to a human life.  Faced with the inexplicable, they will try to escape from this place and then not succeeding will learn to review their behavior or their way of seeing the meaning of life and its ephemeral nature. Throughout one hundred pages the fantasy thriller Sand Castle has succeeded in creating a disturbing climate and questioning us about our short presence on earth and what we will have to leave behind, whether it is a descendant, simple notes or other things. Certainly this graphic novel brought us an explanation on this acceleration of time but in a fast way and showing clearly that the explanation of the events were not in the center of the story but maintaining a disturbing atmosphere was. The result was an immoral, cruel and disturbing tale. 

It is interesting to see how M. Night Shyamalan's screenplay did not just transcribe this graphic novel to the screen. Far from being totally faithful to it, the director and screenwriter has imagined a better introduction and especially changed some elements concerning the main characters and especially totally revised the conclusion and the explanation of the presence of his people with all disabilities on this beach. We follow the tragic journey of a family on vacation in the tropics who discover that the isolated beach where they relax for a few hours makes them age rapidly, reducing their entire life to a single day. Surrounded by other people suffering the same fate, the danger will become omnipresent and their tragic end seems inexorable. Old, which is clearly divided into two parts, one introducing the characters and confronting them with an acceleration of time, and another showing how they will try to get out of it, would have benefited from being less dense and from a better editing.

While the graphic novel Sand Castle would have benefited from being adapted as an ambitious short film, even if it were to be included in a feature film, adapting it as a movie seems like a bad idea. Its approach, which reminds some people of an episode of the Twilight Zone, makes the Old film cruelly lacking in material to hold our attention. In the same way, the casting, which is at the center of the success of many of M. Night Shyamalan's films, is not marked here by subtle choices. Gael García Bernal, does not have the screen presence of a Bruce Willis, a Mel Gibson or a James McAvoy. Despite a very successful ending, we come out with a certain disappointment and the fact that the director M. Night Shyamalan has known his golden age and is currently satisfied with offering simple B series or films cruelly lacking ambition. However, we keep hoping that M. Night Shyamalan will find the magic of his outstanding films and continue to entertain us intelligently. In the case of the film Old, it is a disappointing vintage.

Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Based on Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy, Frederik Peeters
Produced by M. Night Shyamalan, Ashwin Rajan, Marc Bienstock
Starring Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ken Leung, Eliza Scanlen, Aaron Pierre, Embeth Davidtz, Emun Elliott
Cinematography : Mike Gioulakis
Edited by Brett M. Reed
Music by Trevor Gureckis
Production companies : Blinding Edge Pictures, Perfect World Pictures
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date : July 21, 2021 (France), July 23, 2021 (United States)
Running time : 108 minutes

Seen on July 30, 2021 at Gaumont Disney Village, Room 8, seat A19

Mulder's Mark: