Old Joy

Old Joy ★★★½

Yo La Tengo are objectively great, but why would you get them to soundtrack your film when Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy is…right there? Anyway, this is a deceptively simple piece that’s ostensibly about two used-to-be-closer friends hanging out on a weekend in the woods. One (Will Oldham) is a free-spirit type who’s found himself cast adrift while the other (Daniel London), and most everyone else he knows, has settled down. It smartly plays on the stereotype of the social misfit who sells out and conforms to society’s expectations — getting a job and a house, starting a family and all that — when it’s really Oldham’s Kurt who is trapped playing his own role and has condemned himself to a lonely, transient existence, while London’s Mark hasn’t so much changed his philosophy as found a different way to express it and be fulfilled. There’s no message of hope or grief to take away from it; it just is what it is.