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Old Joy (2005)

tomatometer

85

Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 86
Fresh: 73 | Rotten: 13

A serene, melancholy beauty permeates this meditative portrait of deep friendship and faded glory.

87

Average Rating: 7.1/10
Critic Reviews: 30
Fresh: 26 | Rotten: 4

A serene, melancholy beauty permeates this meditative portrait of deep friendship and faded glory.

audience

73

liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 5,244

My Rating

Movie Info

Old Joy is writer/director Kelly Reichardt's long-awaited follow-up to her revered but underseen 1994 feature debut, River of Grass. (She directed a couple of shorts in the interim, including Ode, a Super-8 film inspired by the song "Ode to Bill.") Daniel London and cult folksinger Will Oldham star in the film as two old friends who go on a camping trip to a hot springs in the Cascade mountain range of Oregon. London's Mark is the responsible one with the modest house, the wife (who resents his

Unrated,

Drama

May 1, 2007

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All Critics (91) | Top Critics (31) | Fresh (73) | Rotten (13) | DVD (3)

Old Joy may be built around a road trip, but it's also a movie about two roads -- and two souls -- diverging.

March 15, 2007 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic IconTop Critic

You may find yourself asking whether anything's going to happen. But for those who can tolerate a slow-brewing movie, [director] Reichardt's work provides sufficient rewards.

March 9, 2007
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Subdued, artistic, with beautifully nuanced performances that are as true as they are often elusive of commercial triumph.

March 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Such watchful reticence takes a bold, confident filmmaker.

January 26, 2007 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

At just 76 minutes, Old Joy is a minimalist film, but illuminating, bittersweet, gentle and deeply alive.

January 18, 2007
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The characters stayed with me, and I'm glad I took a second look now that it's opening for a two-week run at Northwest Film Forum. This time around, its sense of humor seemed much more effective -- as did its less-is-more style.

January 5, 2007 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Old Joy is a weaker effort than Meek's Cutoff and Wendy and Lucy, sure, but still a key early step in the career of this impressive filmmaker.

September 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Trespass
Trespass

Interesting, but hardly the lo-fi triumph its reputation suggests.

April 5, 2011 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm
LarsenOnFilm

There are no big revelatory moments. There's no cliched conflict. But don't make the mistake of then assuming that Old Joy has no drama.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

With exquisite tenderness and delicacy, Old Joy fluidly captures the all-too-frequent occurrence of friends drifting apart as their lives branch off in different directions.

September 18, 2009 Full Review Source: Film and Felt
Film and Felt

Annoying, blank, and bereft of any narrative arc "Old Joy" has nothing familiar or enchanting to recommend it.

April 21, 2009 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

The film is like a haiku that one can only interpret through their own experience.

July 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A subtle, elegant meditation on friendship and identity in a cultural moment where honest cultivation of either is treated like a luxury.

February 1, 2008 Full Review Source: Cinematical
Cinematical

A minimalist stroll not worth taking...but if Old Joy doesn't do much, at least it doesn't do it for very long.

May 1, 2007 Full Review Source: One Guy's Opinion
One Guy's Opinion

Reichardt's low-budget feature, shot in one weekend with a skeleton crew, quietly observes both men and passes judgment on neither. It's a minimalist masterpiece.

March 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star

There are whispers of bigger themes present -- the changing nature of friendship, the co-opting of '90s "alternative" culture into the mainstream -- but, for the most part, much of what you get out of the film depends what you bring to it.

February 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Some movies say a lot by saying little; Old Joy seems content to just stay quiet.

February 2, 2007 Full Review Source: Las Vegas Weekly
Las Vegas Weekly

A minimalist piece to be savoured like a good short story.

January 28, 2007 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Like a Raymond Carver story, it seems nothing much at first sight, but its crystallised moment reveals further dimensions the more you muse on it.

January 28, 2007 Full Review Source: Independent on Sunday
Independent on Sunday

A surprising denouement provides poignancy, repaying the goodwill the film inspires through its mellow combinations of music and imagery.

January 28, 2007 Full Review Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Sunday Times (UK)

You would be perfectly at liberty to find it boring and empty, but also to understand the tiny resonances that have made it one of the best reviewed films of 2006 in America. Somehow it does strike home.

January 26, 2007 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Too slight to really haunt, but its subtlety is as treasurable as an old friend.

January 26, 2007 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

A spare and satisfying experience.

January 26, 2007 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

Audience Reviews for Old Joy

The best way I can describe Old Joy is like this, at points in our lifetimes, our feelings change, simple feelings that effect the very core of what we are, it's part of our growth and development and sometimes it's not nice. Because it is often unpleasant, it's sometimes preferable that it be whispered in your ear, rather than shoved down your throat. Kelly Reichardt has depicted this perfectly in this short and gentle film. Even when very little is happening, there is always something nice to look at and Daniel London and Will Oldham play their parts with the subtlety and gentleness they require. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to seeing more from Reichardt. I also now believe that every film should have a dog in it.
September 28, 2011
SirPant

Super Reviewer

This film was my first foray into the work of the well-respected Kelly Reichardt. If this film is any indication, I need to be ready for some serious introspection if I choose to go further.
Although this film is very minimalistic, it tackles some pretty serious issues regarding the changing nature of friendships and the alienation that comes with growing old. It is a road picture in which the trip makes for a pretty interesting metaphor. No matter how you think a trip is going to turn out, there will always be some bumps in the road that you did not foresee.
While some may be turned off by its languid pace, it is refreshingly and awkwardly honest. There are long stretches of silence between these characters and when they do converse, it is rather insipid dialogue. To capitalize on the emotional division between these two characters, Reichardt manages to keep these men in the same frame, but they couldn't seem any further apart.
While a hearty dose of melodrama always spices up a good story, sometimes life isn't that way. In fact, silence far outweighs all of the words spoken in the world and it is interesting to see someone capture these moments in such a raw way. Am I eagerly awaiting this film's release on Blu-Ray? Of course not. But it is an honest look at friendship and something that isn't too often captured on film.
July 6, 2011
axadntpron
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]"Old Joy" starts with Mark(Daniel London) enjoying a quiet day off with his very pregnant wife, Tanya(Tanya Smith), when his old friend, Kurt(Will Oldham), calls, asking him if wants to go hiking to a hot springs up in the mountains. Mark agrees and brings his dog with him. But while searching for their destination, they get lost and stop for the night...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Old Joy" is a low-key exploration about how the times change and sometimes the people do not change along with them through the friendship of two men. Mark is expecting his first child, the biggest change in his life, soon to be his largest responsibility.(Smaller changes to his life involve the closing of a local used records store and his listening to talk radio which he may not have listened to before.) At the same time, Kurt is considering the job offer of a chef at a resort but otherwise his life still seems rudderless. The movie's main strength is its naturalness, not only in its settings but also its dialogue. [/font]
October 29, 2006
Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

When Kelly Reichardt hits it, she really hits it with great personal tales and nuanced performances. When she doesn't, you get nuanced boredom. Like Meek's Cutoff, this one falls into the latter category.
July 3, 2013
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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