Old Joy

Everyone has been there, had a really close friend when growing up and somehow lost contact only to meet up years later to find that you have taken different paths and it’s become a little awkward. You still have your past but as time has moved on you’ve grown apart. It’s an age old story but in this instance told so beautifully against the backdrop of the Oregon woods. Mark (Daniel London) and Kurt (Will Oldham) are the old friends reunited in their weekend camping trip of walking, talking, smoking pot and drinking beer. Along with Mark’s dog they venture into the lush forest to look for a set of natural springs that Kurt remembers from a few summers ago. The dynamism between the two characters is great and the casting of Oldham as the kind of drop-out figure against Mark’s soon to be dad with his newly found family responsibility is perfect. The soundtrack is hauntingly complimentary to the camera work and overall style and its no surprise that it’s done by Yo La Tengo a band known for their sweeping instrumental pieces and at times because the dialogue is so sparse it often feels like your watching one of their videos punctuated by spoken inserts, which is no bad thing. Essentially Old Joy is one of those films where not a lot really happens, there is amazing scenery, comical conversational sections, a moving if very light story about human nature and life and a kind of lament on lost friendships and strange unspoken love. At just over an hour this little American tale unfolds with an exquisite subtlety and not only is it a joy to watch, it also makes you feel kind of warm inside. What a brilliantly rare little movie.

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