Thursday, May 9, 2019

Old Joy (2006) directed by Kelly Reichardt

Reading Wendell Berry’s fiction over the past few years has made me question some of my life choices. I would be utterly lost for at least the first few years if I took off and tried to live in the woods. I am extremely poorly equipped for that. But there are works of art that really make me wonder why I chose a career that placed me inside a bureaucracy. Wendell Berry’s work. Annie Dillard’s. Robinson Jeffers’ poetry. Add Old Joy to that list.

This is the second of Reichardt’s movies I’ve seen (the first being Meek’s Cutoff) and she is two for two. She works at a deliberately slow pace; in this case a clear attempt to pull the viewer out of the noise of everyday life. The plot, such as it is, consists of two male friends whose paths have diverged to the point that their friendship is nearly impossible as they enter middle age. They go into the woods and are mostly silent around each other as they realize the futility of nostalgia and the possibilities that are cut off for their relationship going forward.

The movie is about realizing that as time passes one must move on, or at least can’t go back, but there’s enough space to read a lot of different meanings into it. Watching it I missed hiking in Umstead Park in my old home in Raleigh. That thought is drenched in a nostalgia that is not helpful. It did make me realize I need to find a place to hike here in my new(ish) home if for nothing else to get outside of my head. The movie left me somewhere between wistfulness and intending to get away from bureaucracy and noise, if only for a little while, very soon.

Canon-Worthy for me. Pass if you don’t like movies with little plot.

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