Sunday, June 03, 2007

Old Joy

I can really recommend "Old Joy" for anyone looking for a film that is a bit a refreshing and different from the usual diet of "hits" and "blockbusters".

The plot is simple, not to say minimal. Essentially two old college friends Mark and Kurt, both now in their thirties meet for an overnight camping trip to a hot spring* in Oregon.

The two friends are now superficially quite different. Mark is domesticated and approaching fatherhood while Kurt is a bushy-bearded drifter who lives reasonably happily beyond the norms of society.

Due to these differences there is some awkwardness and silences but nothing that cannot be overcome in the course of their journey.

The film has a sense of simple escape as Kurt, Mark and Mark's dog drive off into the Oregon countryside. They do (briefly) find a sense of escape but Mark's mobile phone and the shortness of the trip mean they are never far from their slightly daunting realities of their lives. The whole film seems to be about fragility- of friendships, of life itself and of brief moments of true freedom.

It is a simple film that doesn't try to say too much but captures the spirit as well as the challenges of friendship between two changing but ultimately similar men.

It is a short film at just over 70 minutes so while it may not be everyone's cup of tea due to its minimal plot, is worth watching. If nothing else it makes me want to see the Oregon countryside.

It manages to capture something special about escaping from the city, from urban reality into a rural idyl. So much so, that it is gently saddening as Mark and Kurt return to their respective homes.

There is a line in the film where Kurt says that it is easy to forget that this is all ( the countryside, the forest and the natural world) still there. It is certainly a timely reminder for anyone who spends too much time in a big city like London.

* Bagby Hot Spring, Oregon

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