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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Old (M) - 109 minutes

Let’s face it, growing old, frail and decrepit isn’t nice, but this offering from the man who made Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense) famous is simply ridiculous claptrap.

Guy (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Prisca Capa (Vicky Krieps) have taken their two children, 11-year-old daughter Maddox and six-year-old Trent, on a luxurious tropical island holiday.

The husband and wife are on the verge of separating, but have decided to take one last trip as a family and wait until that is over before telling the kids.

The hotel manager informs them of a special secluded beach on the other side of the island, which they and a handful of other guests choose to visit.

Amongst them are a cardiothoracic surgeon with some serious mental health issues, Charles (Rufus Sewell), and his enviable figured younger wife Chrystal (Abbey Lee) and six-year-old daughter Kara, along with his mother, Agnes (Kathleen Chalfant).

Already on the beach is a rap artist with a blood disorder who goes by the moniker Mid-Sized Sedan (Aaron Pierre).

They are later joined by a male nurse, Jarin (Ken Leung), and his wife Patricia (Nikki Amuka-Bird), a psychologist who suffers from epileptic fits.

It is not long before things start to get seriously crazy.

First up, Trent discovers a woman’s body washed ashore.

And then, one by one, those on the beach all start to age (two years every hour or about 50 years in a day).

There is no explanation for this, mind you.

The beach is surrounded by a high wall of rocks and at one point a member of the group speculates that it could be the minerals in them that has resulted in their predicament.

Regardless, before you know it, many are dropping like flies and the rest remain trapped with no way out.

Old is based on a 2011 graphic novel, Sandcastle, by French writer Pierre Oscar Lévy and artist Frederik Peeters.

A feeling of unease permeates the film’s start. It is written all over Prisca’s face.

Something is amiss, but we are not sure what. That, in itself, makes for a promising, if decidedly awkward, start.

Twenty minutes in and we know we are dealing with a heavy burden that the holidaymakers are having to wear.

The concept of ageing may have been a decent starting point, but the script has more holes in it than Swiss cheese.

The leaps of faith required to buy what M. Night Shyamalan is selling are beyond the pale.

The acting is often atrocious. At times I couldn’t help thinking it was a race to the bottom. Put another way, it appears to be a sick joke on us – the audience – to determine who could be doing the worst job.

There is an awkwardness (there’s that word again) about the whole piece, which doesn’t hang together like a good movie should.

Even the edit points are haphazard.

It leads me to ask what has become of the accomplished film maker that M. Night Shyamalan was, for I don’t think I have seen a less convincing property of his?

We do get plot closure before the final credits, but by then it is way too late to rescue something that is unworthy of attention.

Rated M, Old wears out its welcome very early on and scores a 4 out of 10.


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