Old Joy (2006)

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

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"Old Joy" is the story of two old friends, Kurt and Mark, who reunite for a weekend camping trip in the Cascade mountain range east of Portland, Oregon. It is a minimalist story of friendship, loss and alienation in the Bush era. For Mark, the weekend outing offers a respite from the pressure of his imminent fatherhood; for Kurt, it is part of a long series of carefree adventures. As the hours progress and the landscape evolves, the twin seekers move through a range of subtle emotions, enacting a pilgrimage of mutual confusion, sudden insight, and recurring intimations of spiritual battle. When they arrive at their final destination, a hot spring in an old growth forest, they must either confront the divergent paths they have taken or somehow transcend their growing tensions in an act of forgiveness and mourning.

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Critic Reviews for Old Joy

All Critics (89) | Top Critics (32)

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

Mar 15, 2007 | Rating: B

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.

Mar 9, 2007 | Rating: B

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

Mar 9, 2007 | Rating: 3/4

Such watchful reticence takes a bold, confident filmmaker.

Jan 26, 2007 | Rating: 4/6 | Full Review…

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

Jan 18, 2007 | Rating: 3/4

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.

Jan 5, 2007 | Rating: 3/4

Audience Reviews for Old Joy

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.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

½

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.

Reid Volk
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

½

Even more minimalistic than Reichardt's follow-up, Wendy & Lucy. Still, it was a satisfying experience.

Robert Fearon
Robert Fearon

Super Reviewer

½

[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]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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