Old Joy - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Old Joy Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ July 6, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
½ October 29, 2006
[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]
Super Reviewer
July 3, 2013
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.
Super Reviewer
½ May 7, 2010
Even more minimalistic than Reichardt's follow-up, Wendy & Lucy. Still, it was a satisfying experience.
½ January 24, 2012
This movie provides an interesting insight into male relationships but its lack of plot and on-screen events makes it quite disappointing.
½ June 18, 2008
"i want us to be real friends again. there's something between us and i don't like it. i want it to go away."
January 1, 2008
On an entertainment scale, 'Old Joy' is right up there with watching grass grow. In Kelly Reichardt's painfully dull sophomore feature, not much happens. The premise is basically this -- two old friends go on a camping trip and talk about their family, swim, smoke weed and talk about philosophy. One of the friends is a married man, Mark (Daniel London) and the other is a hairy, balding and unquestionably pathetic washed-up hippie by the name of Kurt (Will Oldham).

Techincally speaking, 'Old Joy' is a well-made film. The cinematography is neat, the dialogue although boring is realistic and the acting is solid. Oldham and London are both decent in their roles, and the two have great screen chemistry. But for the average viewer, there is little to like about this inexcusably tedious exercise. The film's gratuitous drawn-out shots of nature gets to be tiresome, annoying and dare I say a bit pretentious. If you enjoy watching grass grow, get ready for the thrill-ride of the decade! Grade: B-
½ July 20, 2007
Will Oldham is awesome in one of the greatest buddy movies I have seen. Plus it's kind of a road movie. In the wilderness of Oregon. With Yo La Tengo music.
½ June 11, 2007
In the Pacific Northwest, two former college roommates, Mark and Kurt, reunite for a weekend trip to a remote and somewhat mystical Oregon hot spring. They were once free thinkers, postmodern hippies always stoned and at one with nature. These days, Mark is at the tipping point of letting that part of himself go forever and settling into a comfy, suburban lifestyle. Kurt hasn't just retained that carefree part of himself; it has defined his life as an unemployed drifter. What other history they share is pure speculation, as, for a quiet 76 minutes, we watch them meet, drive, get drunk, have a meal, finally locate the fabled hot spring, and then return to civilization. The dialogue is spare but filled with pain as these two floundering companions realize how far they've grown apart and attempt to reconnect with a beautiful earth that they may or may not take in as joyfully as they should. Part character study and part meditative nature film, it rewards patience in spades with images and observations that will linger in the mind long, long after the closing credits roll. Super bonus -- Yo La Tengo's gorgeous minimalist score is, like the movie, an invigorating walk in the crisp autumn woods.
May 29, 2007
being a fan of will oldmans music i had to rent this, well he delivered on acting but i cant say much for the movie all around.
½ February 1, 2007
glorious. multiple levels of good. most times i tune out to the conversation but there's no need to listen. it's a beautiful picture.
½ September 20, 2015
A gentle movie with inner tension that could have been used to better purpose. Mark, a latter-day hippy in search of self, and Kurt, a compliant father-to-be, go on a camping trip, the spur of the moment. Kurt is more personally grounded and eager to talk about whatever the two lost as they grew apart, post-college or high school. Mark is more into avoidance, right down to the scene in which the men are lying in adjoining wooden tubs full of steaming water and Kurt gets up, smokes joint, and tries to make a physical connection. There are hints that they might have had a sexual fling years past, but Mark is not going that far now. His expressions say more than his words. The duo talk in circles and the dialogue never gets very interesting. It's all about Kurt's taking a course in physics, his vision of the universe, and Mark's volunteering to teach woodworking to teenagers. At least Mark gets party animated sharing this. There is a hint from Mark that Kurt also does volunteering, but to a "very different community" - the only hint of Kurt's possible gayness. Wish the movie had more intense conversation and that Kurt had broken through Mark's innate privacy boundaries. As it is, it's thoughtful, but needed to get to a bolder place.
May 27, 2015
Kelly Reichardt's film is deceptively simple. In truth it is simply complex. Will Oldham and Daniel London deliver quietly powerful and very realistic performances as two reunited friends. A weekend of camping and hiking in the mountains of Oregon takes a heavy turn as both men grapple with their lives, their choices and their friendship. Always emotionally insightful and genuine, Old Joy is a unsentimentally touching and unsettling journey. Not to be missed.
February 3, 2013
Never too brilliant but never too shit either. Its a very boring film but it has something to say about space, time and the mind, which makes it quite watchable. If you are in need of some meditation and couldn't bother heading off to a retreat or a monastary, instead wanting to watch a film then this is ideal.
May 14, 2014
A chamber piece of a road movie, that performs a minor miracle: We witness two men do very little for a brief running time, let it feels like we've known these characters are whole lives.
May 9, 2014
Why is this called "a gay movie?" Did I miss something????????
½ August 4, 2013
This movie is the answer to a question no one asked. Ok I get that it's supposed to be slow moving and reflective, but what it really consists of is holding a handheld camera out the window and showing buildings pass by as they drive to the woods. Or you're looking through the windshield at two yellow lines on the highway. These guys both appear as total losers, and the man-sized toddler (Kurt) stumbles around aimlessly and makes his friend Mark even pay for the pot before they leave! It's assumed that Mark also ends up buying the gas, the beer, and probably breakfast at the little dive the next morning. If the film is supposed to be so scenic and beautiful, why did they end up camping out in a junkyard? The next half of the movie consists of the bobble head with the pink shorts stumbling around in the woods, and the guy with the Volvo and the dog follows along behind him. Finally they end up at some cabin, get naked, and take a bath in separate bathtubs while drinking beer and snoozing. The bobblehead tries to give his friend a backrub, which his friend resists, until he gives up and just lies there letting it happen to get it overwith. Finally they head back home, and we see more scenery as they drive back to the city (at least this time they don't get lost). It ends when the guy with the Volve drops off his friend, he drives away, and the bobblehead gives some homeless guy a dollar. End of movie. THIS HAS TO BE THE MOST BORING MOVIE EVER PRODUCED!
½ February 11, 2013
It's like taking a trip with two old friends..... two really boring friends.. One who can't seem to grow up, and the other being the perfect example of why you wouldn't want to.
½ December 6, 2012
I like how Reichardt sticks faithfully to her minimalist story and telling. I like the tiny indications that Kurt and Mark were once lovers, but that Mark has a wife and baby on the way; this tininess fits with the movie's minimalism. I appreciated how the men chose go different ways. But this is a story of how a powerless man in love is dumped by a more powerful lover. The strong dominate the weak, as it is always in life. I had hoped for a bit more compassion from art.
November 6, 2012
It certainly seems that Kurt has more than just feelings of Friendship for Mark - the movie has a constant flow of homoerotic images - and we do not really know what happens in the tent over night - or more importantly when alone at the hot springs. It is very Brokeback-lite set in modern times without any of the sex but still that longing and man crush is there on the part of Kurt at least..... also a beautiful escape to the Pacific Northwest.
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