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Old Joy

2006 Drama

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 gallivanting off), the dog (who comes along), and the baby on the way. He listens to Air America, and makes all the right liberal noises. Oldham's Kurt is the free-spirit type with the untamed facial hair and the junker car that looks more lived-in than vehicular. Kurt suggests the trip, and they take Mark's car. Kurt has the directions to the place, and they get lost ("I think we're somewhere...in the area") and spend the night at a garbage-strewn campsite, where they discuss their lives, and Kurt laments the apparent dissolution of their friendship. In the morning, they have breakfast in a diner, and Mark apologizes to Tanya (Tanya Smith) over the phone, explaining that he'll be home later than expected. In the daylight, they find the hot springs, and spend the afternoon quietly unwinding. Reichardt co-wrote Old Joy with Jonathan Raymond, adapting his short story, which was originally written as a collaboration with photographer Justine Kurland. It was shot (on Super-16) by Peter Sillen and features a soundtrack by Yo La Tengo. The film was selected by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art for inclusion in the 2006 edition of New Directors/New Films. more..

Director: Kelly Reichardt

Starring: Daniel London, Will Oldham, Tanya Smith, Robin Rosenberg, Keri Moran

Reviews

  • It's in all the moments where little happens that Reichardt is most amazing, investing even a gas-station pit stop with perfect emotional pitch.

    Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly

    26 April 2013

  • Kurt and Mark's trip to those hot springs is a figurative return to Eden. Anyone who's had a disillusioning reunion with a moony old friend knows what Mark discovers: They're too old to stay that innocent. None of this hit me until after the movie ended. But it hit me hard: You can't go home again.

    Wesley Morris - The Boston Globe

    26 April 2013

  • Without relying on dialogue, and once again making good but sparing use of Yo La Tengo's toasty guitar soundtrack, Reichardt proves herself a filmmaker with a masterful sense of the expressive purity of the passing moment.

    - TV Guide

    26 April 2013

  • Making exceptional use of stillness and silence, this is a rather sad study of the passing of traditional concepts of American masculinity along with the landscape that forged them.

    David Parkinson - Empire

    26 April 2013

  • The result is a film that fails to completely involve you, even as you admire its artistry.

    Ruthe Stein - The San Francisco Chronicle

    26 April 2013

Awards

  • Best Original Screenplay

    Chlotrudis Awards (2007)

     
  • Kelly Reichardt

    Gotham Awards (2006)

     
  • Neil Kopp

    Independent Spirit Awards (2008)

  • Kelly Reichardt

    Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards (2006)

  • Kelly Reichardt

    Paris Cinema (2006)