Friday, December 11, 2009

Film Decade List #14: Old Joy

Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, USA, 2006)

Over the past decade, I've really gained an appreciation of Reichardt's film, with Old Joy definitely being my favorite. Minimalist to a fault, not a lot of "action" occurs, which in turn will get it called boring my some people. The power of the film resides not in the action of the two main characters, Mark (Daniel London) and Kurt (Will Oldham) but in the moments of silence between the two and of the film itself. The plot revolves around Mark and Kurt as they meet up to spend a day or two in the woods, heading out to some hot springs. The two haven't been close over the years and the trip only reinforces the distance and awkwardness their relationship now occupies. Reichardt handles the interaction deftly, and the scenes of quiet natural beauty she creates around these sparse moments only heighten the chasm of difference that has crept in between the two. The film ends on a note that Mark and Kurt have become two completely incompatible people: Mark with a wife, child, and (seemingly) good job, and Kurt just wandering through, living on a whim, never really "growing up." What is left is a sad feeling that there is nothing that can be done to repair this relationship. It ends with the two going their separate ways, a gulf between two men that once must have been close.

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