Community Relations Manager
KUNV 91.5 FM
University of Nevada Las Vegas
Normally I would enjoy a quiet, slow road trip movie about a complicated
friendship, but Old Joy made me feel like Iíd spent 90 minutes in a vacuum.
It was tense and awkward, and not a whole lot really happened.
Daniel London and Will Oldham play two friends who decide to go camping in
the woods one weekend. Londonís character is responsible and has settled
down, and even has a baby on the way. Oldham is a wandering freethinker who
rolls with the punches. But London leaves all his responsibility behind at
the request of some guyís character to spend a few days searching for a
hidden hot springs.
There was a lot of tension between the
guys from the get go. When they see each other for the first time, they
speak only in niceties. Once they get going though, they talk a little more
about their lives, but their conversation mainly turns toward directions and
maps. When it gets dark, they decide to stay the night at a random
campground. Here, 75 percent of the dialogue in the entire film is spoken
while the guys are sitting around the campfire, drinking and shooting cans
off a log with an air gun.
The guys talk about their jobs, their
relationships, some events from the past. It was general campfire talk, but
as they keep drinking, the tension reaches its first peak when Oldham asks
what is wrong with their friendship. Londonís character keeps repeating
ďeverything is fine,Ē and convinces Oldham to just drop it. But now the idea
that their friendship isnít what it used to be is hanging in the air between
them. The awkwardness between them was very realistic, and easy to relate
to. Whenever weíre in close quarters with someone we havenít talked to in a
long time, conversation inevitably runs out, and youíre both stuck there, in
To make the film even more tense and
awkward, for both characters and audience, there is a hint of sexual tension
between the men. You can tell that freewheeling Oldham can feel comfortable
with men or women because he accepts himself for the way he is and is
obviously more honest and open about things. Londonís character is tense and
quiet, and isnít honest with himself or with anyone else in the film.
On a different note cinematography was really visually interesting, and
created a second dialogue throughout. Nature is like the third main
character, and because half of the film is set in the car, you feel like
youíve been quietly reflecting and staring out the window for a long period
of time. This was also the first time Iíve seen shots taken from a camera
strapped to the bumper of a car, instead of solely being shot through a
window, or from another vehicle. All the shots were very smooth too, which
is a big feat on its own.
The strength of this film was that
everything that is shown, every single little thing that is said means
something. How they all connect is a whole different story, and that was the
films weakness, but because the film was so simple, everything meant
something. The main reason I just couldnít give this film a higher rating
was because when the final credits rolled, Iíd felt like I missed something,
or that I was expecting something big to happen. Old Joy was just plain
anticlimactic, and on the surface, completely pointless. It goes without
showing that the reason I didnít give it a lower rating was because once I
thought about it, the simplicity and the isolation of the film was tranquil.
I got the point; there isnít one single moral or solution for anyone to
gather, itís all about feeling at peace with yourself, taking a break and
formulating your own opinions. It was a nice change not to have a director
or writerís opinion force fed to me.