Guy (Gael García Bernal, "Y Tu Mama Tambien") and Prisca Capa (Vicky Krieps, "Phantom Thread") haven’t told their 11 and 6 year old children that the Caribbean vacation they are on will be their last as a family, the couple planning on divorce. Nor have they disclosed Prisca’s concerning medical condition, one which has Guy reconsidering their split. They’re all dazzled by the luxury of the resort Prisca stumbled upon online and thrilled when the resort’s manager (Gustaf Hammarsten) offers them access to a spectacular hidden beach, but once there it won’t be too long before they realize the aging process has been weirdly affected and they are all growing “Old.”
Laura's Review: C+
Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan, putting his own spin on the graphic novel ‘Sandcastle,’ delivers another of his patented long builds to a twist ending, a device which sometimes works and often flops. “Old” falls somewhere in the middle, its last act reveal falling on the far side of fetched but Bernal and Krieps adding poignant emotional depth. The film’s stunning location in the Dominican Republic gives cinematographer Mike Gioulakis plenty to work with and Shyamalan’s concept gets a huge assist with exceptional aging makeup (Cristina Waltz).
After being greeting with cocktails specifically tailored to their tastes, Prisca becomes involved in her work as a museum curator while Guy frets, Prisca noting that he’s always thinking about the future while her job requires her to live in the past. The kids, Trent (Nolan River/"Hereditary's" Alex Wolff) and Maddox (Alexa Swinton/"Jojo Rabbit's" Thomasin McKenzie) befriend the resort manager’s nephew Idlib (Kailen Jude), he and Trent developing a secret code. During breakfast, another guest, Patricia (Nikki Amuka-Bird, "The Personal History of David Copperfield"), suffers an epileptic seizure, but her husband Jarin (Ken Leung, HBO's 'Industry') assures everyone she’ll be OK, joking affectionately that she likes to be the center of attention.
They’ll also arrive at that beach where the Capas have already found rapper Mid-Sized Sedan (Aaron Pierre, Amazon's 'The Underground Railroad') keeping his distance as well as a high-strung doctor, Charles (Rufus Sewell, "Judy"), his trophy wife Chrystal (Abbey Lee, HBO's 'Lovecraft County'), their six year-old Kara (Kylie Begley/"Little Women's" Eliza Scanlen), his elderly mother Agnes (Kathleen Chalfa, Showtime's 'The Affair') and her dog. It is the late arriving Jarin and Patricia who are the first to sense something wrong when Trent, clearly a teenager, tells them he is six. Soon Agnes is complaining of chest pain, a woman who was with Mid-Sized washes up on the beach and Charles’s mental instability is revealed when he slashes the rapper with a knife. No one has cell reception and every attempt to leave the beach is thwarted while they all come to the realization they’re aging about two years every hour.
Shyamalan has cooked up some interesting characters and group dynamics, although some in his ensemble are less successful than others fleshing them out. Best are Bernal and Krieps, whose aging lends depth to their relationship, their moving story the best example of Shyamalan’s themes on the nature of love and time. Also affecting are Embeth Davidtz, ("Schindler's List") and Emun Elliott ("Prometheus") as the oldest version of the siblings. Shyamalan has given himself in the role of their van driver, one which also casts him as a ‘director’ of the mysterious situation. But while some may find the answer to the puzzle satisfying, more are likely to find it preposterous with its reliance on both manmade intervention and natural enigma. “Old” may have gotten Shyamalan out of Philadelphia, but it hasn’t gotten the more absurd inclinations out of Shyamalan.
Universal opens "Old" in theaters on 7/23/2021.