Indian-American director M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film takes place on a paradisiacal beach and is paradoxically stifling. Strangeness, claustrophobia, brushstrokes of gore and scattered reflections in a perfect film to cope with post-vacation laziness.
Director of The sixth Sense (1999) is always in the spotlight of the critics with each of his premieres. The latter was not going to be less and has generated great expectation, especially after the resounding failure of Glass (2019) and taking into account the 18 million dollars it has cost to produce this film.
Old is the screen adaptation of the well-known graphic novel by Frederik Peeters and Pierre Oscar Lévy entitled The Sandcastle. The director had an obligation to make amends after the trilogy Unbreakable and go back to its origins. The result is a risky, heterogeneous and disturbing bet with touches of all kinds of genres, styles and references that end up cloistering the viewer. It is remarkable how he delves into summer aesthetics, with precious zenith shots, risky compositions that end up reminiscent of the comic itself. Shyamalan uses color washes and uses color tones as a narrative device. In this way, he manages to turn summer environments into cold landscapes.
The cast is packed with familiar faces to whisper to in the movies and guess where we’ve seen them before. The main family is headed by Gael García Bernal, a very classic Mexican actor, along with a spectacular Vicky Krieps invading the screen in every scene. In the role of her children we find Thomasin McKenzie, catapulted into her last role in Jojo Rabbit, and musician Alex Wolff. The supporting roles are played by Rufus Sewell, his last role was in The father (2020), or Eliza Scanlen, who played the role of Beth in Little women (2019).
However, the development of each of these roles is limited. The narration is helped by flat characters with a very well defined role to facilitate the development of the plot and and avoid obstacles. Thanks to this choice, Shyamalan can allow himself to plot an impulsive action, without anticipation and with a sometimes hasty plot. There are moments when it seems that it is a script written from improvisation, with unexpected twists and sometimes little justified. It is precisely this unpredictable autonomy, along with the cliché that the characters represent, that most closely resembles the horror genre to which it belongs.
The possibilities of the cliche
The rest is pure innovation. A film whose matrix is time but renewing the classic space-time journeys and approaching the passage of time in the physical, in the skin and in the maturation of people. Shyamalan treats time in its most human dimension and therefore the most accurate, original and transversal to all viewers.
Its other great pillar is a continuous game of opposites. A beautiful cove represented as a claustrophobic place, the relaxation of vacations with the anguish of the passage of time. Degenerative diseases with the natural growth of people. The physical aspect of a young body as opposed to old age … Even Shyalaman dares with the difficult exercise of penetrating humor with terror, without compromising either of the two and fleeing from the lazy comedy of cinema gore.
The other great technical feature that is worth highlighting is a peculiar experimentation in camera movements, reminiscent of the possibilities offered by animation and the compositions and visual sensations of the comic. It is followed by zenith shots, close-ups and hyperbolic subjective shots.
In conclusion, it is easy to indulge in this enveloping plot on the question of the passage of time, but the predisposition that is brought into the room is important. It is advisable to know that it is a horror film (with suspense overtones) and that, therefore, it should not be required more than what would be required of a typical ghost movie. In order to enjoy the film, it is important to avoid any search for dramatic coherence or excessive depth in the dialogues. This entertainment product has to be consumed with that premise; to entertain, be captivated and scare without wondering much about how.
One last tip: it’s the full trailer with more spoilers of history.
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Shyamalan time – hoyesarte.com