I’m Stuck with ‘Old’. Twist: I won’t see it.


Let me be clear, I can’t wait to see M. Night Shyamalan’s last movie, “Stale,” There’s no other reason why I came to theaters last week, because I’ve been traveling and haven’t set foot in a theater for almost two years. But in the last few weeks watched the trailer Fascinated by the combination of existential horror and unintentional humor, time and again. The trailer introduces us to people stranded on a remote beach where they’re starting to age at an incredible rate. Naturally, they’re trying to figure out what’s going on, theories are flying around and they’re going crazy. Since this is a Shyamalan movie, the trailer promises they’ll spend a lot of time looking confused and worried – the same facial success of Mark Wahlberg continued throughout the film’s duration. “Event” – and shouting at each other, demanding explanations.

It’s a familiar, Manichaean, Shyamalan-esque universe: a diverse group of bewildered souls, alone in a threatening void, earnestly playing the endgame logic dictated by the script. (It’s as if the director has been compelled to constantly make big-budget versions of “Waiting for Godot” – you think it can’t go on, but it will.) So we see a family on vacation. Beach. The roster is soon populated by others: a couple, a 6-year-old girl, a woman in a bikini doing a smoochie on her phone, two more men. Before long, the boys find something in the sand: rusted items from their hotel, cracked sunglasses, high-end iPhones. A young, bleach-blonde corpse shoots toward a boy in the water. (He did not die of old age, he will rot in hyperlapse.) That’s when real aging begins. Parents confront their child’s sudden puberty. A 6-year-old girl grows up, gets pregnant, and gives birth on the beach. Be it fate, God, time, Facebook or nature, a greater power is at hand. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter how many trip reward points you have in real life, or how many memorable family vacations you’ve had.

Near the beginning of the trailer, Vicky Krieps’ character says dreamily to her impatient kids: “Let’s all start slowing down.” Then everything starts to accelerate. At one point she turns to her husband and says, “You have wrinkles!” she exclaims. (Horror!) But of course it won’t be an allegory about the importance of “Old” sunscreen. What is shown here is more like a meditation on mortality wrapped up in a cautionary tale about our accelerated lives – about the scarcity of flying and the inevitability of death and the growth of children, bodies going to hell. It’s about the devastations we visit on Earth that will remain shrouded in all our fancy garbage long after they have turned us to dust.

part of what There’s something so fascinatingly odd about the trailer that it shoots a movie that squeezes life into a few hours and then compresses it into a galloping two-and-a-half-minute highlight reel. Its dizzying, parodic pace brings to mind Tom Stoppard’s “15 Minutes of Hamlet,” in which the most famous scenes from Shakespeare’s play (twice!) are packed into a quarter of an hour. (In a film adaptation I saw once, Ophelia choked herself by sticking her head in a bucket.) The title alone reduces the existential horror of the premise to a midlife frenzy.

The comic book this movie is based on – “Sandcastle,” written by Pierre Oscar Lévy and illustrated by Frederik Peeters, was inspired by Levy’s memories of childhood vacations. “He would travel a lot to a beach just like this one in northern Spain,” Peeters told comics site CBR. “Later he came back with his own children, and one day the idea came to him.” The beach can serve as a microcosm of Western society, with “some powerful fundamental figures.” It wasn’t a thriller, Peeters said – “it’s a fairy tale.”

He’s making a movie that squeezes life into a few hours, then two and a half minutes.

Shyamalan may be best known for his last-minute surprises, but that was an option the “Sandcastle” writers eventually opposed. According to Peeters, Levy had written a solution to the story, a final twist – “but in the end we decided that it was useless and would destroy the frightening dimension of the book.” The frightening dimension, of course, is that there is no time to escape or death – and there is no simple twist of revelation in life to explain what you want to do with your time here.

Anyone who turns this source material into a movie has a choice to make: either embrace the dreadful meaninglessness of our short life, or try to console the story with a solution. The trailer shows Shyamalan choosing the latter: The last words we heard were from Gabriel Garcia Bernal, “We’re here for a reason!” said character. Maybe we are, maybe we aren’t, but my time on Earth is limited and any story that tries to complete the life problem will feel like a waste.

as I watched I have been to this trailer many times, by chance in Spain, where I lived for many years growing up. I am writing from my brother’s new flat in Madrid, which is next door to a childhood friend’s childhood home. As I pass my dog ​​by his building, when I meet him later, I find myself in the trailer contemplating the nature of time passing, how compressed and accelerated it can feel. It’s awkward sitting across from people you met in elementary school but haven’t seen in years. It makes you feel like the couples in the trailer as you watch their spouses transform into their future selves. Time seems to pass faster when you periodically return to one place over a long period of time with large gaps in between.

During the paralysis of the past year and a half—this distant, isolated, slowed time when some of the most privileged among us can isolate in safety and comfort—the future may seem like it’s waiting. (It wasn’t.) Time was endless and slow for me until it accelerated significantly. I lost my mother suddenly. After traveling nowhere for 18 months, I came back to the city where I lost my father, where my nephews were born, and where my parents’ living friends grew old. It’s funny to see how much has changed and what things never change. I met a friend at a gallery opening and told her that I forgot to iron my dress upon arrival. He seemed happy to hear this: “You’re still you!” said.

Maybe for some of us, the last year felt like a pause. But there was no break. There never is. You look away for a moment and your kid is tall. Your dog is old. Friends go away. You start to wonder where all this is going. What? When will he come? And then you realize maybe where you are, it might be a very old city – old for you and old in history, though not as old as some – and here you are, watching a movie trailer over and over, you get a weird feeling.

Carina Chocano is a contributing author and author of a collection of articles, “You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks and Other Mixed Messages.”


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