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Old Joy

Old Joy

4.0 2
Director: Kelly Reichardt, Daniel London, Will Oldham, Tanya Smith

Cast: Kelly Reichardt, Daniel London, Will Oldham, Tanya Smith

Old Joy is writer/director Kelly Reichardt's long-awaited follow-up to her revered but underseen 1994 feature debut, River of Grass. (She directed a couple of shorts in the interim, including Ode, a Super-8 film inspired by the song "Ode to Bill.") Daniel London and cult folksinger Will Oldham star in the film as


Old Joy is writer/director Kelly Reichardt's long-awaited follow-up to her revered but underseen 1994 feature debut, River of Grass. (She directed a couple of shorts in the interim, including Ode, a Super-8 film inspired by the song "Ode to Bill.") Daniel London and cult folksinger Will Oldham star in the film as two old friends who go on a camping trip to a hot springs in the Cascade mountain range of Oregon. London's Mark is the responsible one with the modest house, the wife (who resents his gallivanting off), the dog (who comes along), and the baby on the way. He listens to Air America, and makes all the right liberal noises. Oldham's Kurt is the free-spirit type with the untamed facial hair and the junker car that looks more lived-in than vehicular. Kurt suggests the trip, and they take Mark's car. Kurt has the directions to the place, and they get lost ("I think we're somewhere...in the area") and spend the night at a garbage-strewn campsite, where they discuss their lives, and Kurt laments the apparent dissolution of their friendship. In the morning, they have breakfast in a diner, and Mark apologizes to Tanya (Tanya Smith) over the phone, explaining that he'll be home later than expected. In the daylight, they find the hot springs, and spend the afternoon quietly unwinding. Reichardt co-wrote Old Joy with Jonathan Raymond, adapting his short story, which was originally written as a collaboration with photographer Justine Kurland. It was shot (on Super-16) by Peter Sillen and features a soundtrack by Yo La Tengo. The film was selected by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art for inclusion in the 2006 edition of New Directors/New Films.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
Kelly Reichardt makes a triumphant return to feature filmmaking with the gorgeously elegiac road movie, Old Joy. Collaborating with writer Jonathan Raymond, cinematographer Peter Sillen, and actors Will Oldham and Daniel London, and utilizing and perfectly attuned original score by Yo La Tengo, Reichardt has crafted a deeply intimate, personal, and true-to-life story of two estranged friends on a camping trip. Even more remarkably, Old Joy subtly delivers a devastatingly incisive political message that speaks volumes about the failures of liberalism in the age of "Dubya." In the end, Mark (London) clings to his virtuous ideology (look at the pleasure he gets in listening to Air America, or in his own outrage at an overheard comment about the war) much more tightly than he clings to his friendship with Kurt (Oldham), who actually lives his life by those ideals, and suffers for it. But the characters are far from mere symbols. Much of the film's dry humor and poignancy derives from the extent to which London and Oldham individuate them and flesh them out. With its long tracking shots across the backwoods mountain roads of Oregon, Old Joy could be mistaken for a landscape film, but the landscape it maps is as much spiritual as it is physical, and the personal story it tells is inescapably political, just as the form of Reichardt's quiet, deliberate, and beautifully shot movie, with its abundance of visual and verbal wit, perfectly suits the slow burn of its content -- its achingly exquisite tale of reconciliation and abandonment.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Kino Video
[Wide Screen, Colorized]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Feature-length audio commentary by director Kelly Reichardt, cinematographer Peter Sillen and filmmaker Michael Almereyda; Theatrical trailer; A slide show of production stills

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Daniel London Mark
Will Oldham Kurt
Tanya Smith Tania
Lucy Lucy the Dog
Keri Moran Lawnmower
Matt McCormick Weed Salesman
Robin Rosenberg Waitress
Darren Prolsen Homeless Man
Jillian Wieseneck Diner Patron
P. C. Peri Diner Patron
Autumn Campbell Diner Patron
Steve Doughton Diner Patron

Technical Credits
Kelly Reichardt Director,Editor,Screenwriter
Joshua Blum Executive Producer
Lars Knudsen Producer
Neil Kopp Producer
Eric Offin Sound Editor
Jon Raymond Screenwriter
Mike Ryan Executive Producer
Rajen Savjani Executive Producer
Anish Savjani Producer
Pete Sillen Cinematographer
Todd Haynes Executive Producer
Jay Van Hoy Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Old Joy
1. Opening Titles [7:28]
2. Reunion [5:39]
3. The Journey [7:35]
4. Seeking a Path [5:44]
5. Fireside Chat [9:36]
6. Final Outpost [6:08]
7. Ascension [5:59]
8. The Hot Springs [5:25]
9. Communion [8:04]
10. Descent [3:59]
11. City Lights [3:59]
12. Kurt Alone [3:41]


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4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is a moment in this short little independent film that crystallizes the message: the camera captures the sure but almost imperceptible progress of a slug making its way across a forest leaf with all the sounds of nature as the musical background. From all of the hype that is spread across the cover of this DVD we are to believe that this is the finest independent film of the year, 'shimmering with excellence'. Perhaps for some it will be that. The very sparse script was written by Jonathan Raymond and Kelly Reichardt (who also directs), the story being a couple of days camping trip between two old friends Mark (Daniel London) and Kurt (Will Oldham) who have become estranged by circumstances: Mark has married and is expecting his first child while Kurt remains trapped in the hippie generation, meandering through life without direction. The two leave Portland, Oregon with Mark's dog and head for the Cascades where they plan to soak in the hot springs. Kurt is the navigator, manages to get them lost, then recoups and the two spend a night of discussion by a campfire followed by a day at the hot springs: they return home to their separate lives, the 'old joy' of their previous friendship seems to remain in the past. Most of the 76 minutes of the film is silent landscapes while the two are driving. There is very little dialog and what there is seems strained by the years that separate the once hearty friendship of the two men: it seems we are to believe that the silences and spare words have great significance, but it takes more than a little patience to paste it together into a story. A few gestures are made in an attempt to connect the two again, but they fail to ignite. The acting is monochromatic, the direction is flaccid, but the beauty of the Cascades makes up for a lot. It is a simple, short, plodding little film that may please some and may (honestly) bore most.