Old Joy (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner30/10/2006

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 76 minutes

Opens London Film Festival: 29th October

Once you adjust to the fact that nothing dramatic is going to happen, this is a finely judged, beautifully acted drama about the loss of friendship over time.

What's it all about?
Mark (Daniel London) is settled in Portland and expecting his first child with his wife, Tania (Tanya Smith). Out of the blue, he gets a call from his old friend Kurt (Will Oldham) and the two embark on a camping weekend in Oregon's Cascade Mountains, with the aim of finding some local hot springs.

It gradually becomes clear that the two men have not seen each other in several years and several awkward silences ensue as Mark and Kurt struggle to establish common ground.

The Good
Co-written by director Kelly Reichardt and Jon Raymond (who also wrote the story), Old Joy is an impressive study of the loss of friendship over time. Mark and Kurt's conversation is strained at first but there are little flashes where you realise how close they once were.

The two central performances are extremely good, especially as there are large parts of the film where no-one is talking at all. In particular, Daniel London's slightly pained facial expressions say more about the stresses of impending fatherhood in two minutes than the likes of The Last Kiss manage in two hours.

The Great
There are moments of subtle humour in the film, such as when Kurt remarks on how good it is to get out of the city, apparently oblivious to the fact that he's sitting on an abandoned sofa and drinking Coke in front of a roaring fire. There are also some quietly moving scenes, such as when Kurt tells Mark a long, personal story, only to realise that Mark hasn't been listening.

Worth seeing?
There's a very European feel to Old Joy and if you go in expecting a dramatic, dialogue-heavy script you'll be disappointed, but this is a quietly rewarding film that deserves to be seen.

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Content updated: 15/12/2017 12:06

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