Old ★★½

Unfortunately, the uptick in violence is the only part of Old that feels as though it isn’t taken out of the same bag of tricks Shyamalan has been playing with for the last couple decades. One of the most frustrating and confusing dips back into that well is Shyamalan’s continued depiction of mental illness as a catalyst for villainy. The Visit had depictions of dementia and mental disorders as explanations for violence and potential supernatural happenings. Split was a villain origin story with dissociative personality disorder more or less serving as Kevin’s sole character trait. With Old, a character rapidly develops a disorder that affects his cognitive abilities and quickly morphs him into an aggressive and dangerous antagonist.

In the context of Old, what comes out of this character’s sudden development of a mental disorder does fit within the confines of the film’s concept and tracks well enough. It can be argued that it tells a greater narrative about the fear inherent to growing old. But it’s more egregious that Shyamalan continues to mine the real life suffering of people with mental illnesses so he can create characters that wreak havoc and pain on his films’ protagonists. Considering this isn’t a new criticism for Shyamalan, it feels as though he took more care this time around, not to be respectful, but to make this film’s “mental illness creates monster” storyline a better fit for the narrative rather than retiring a repetitive and problematic storytelling device altogether. At best, it’s a tired trope in Shyamalan’s repertoire. At worst, it’s a brazenly offensive storytelling crutch that the filmmaker doesn’t seem keen on adjusting anytime soon.

Full review: https://obsessiveviewer.com/2021/07/22/movie-review-old-2021/

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