A dozen years ago, Kelly Reichardt made her feature debut with a wonderfully desultory riff on the last romantic couple. Reichardt's River of Grass was a comic, slacker Bonnie and Clyde, set on the edge of the Everglades. Her belated follow-up, the more elegiac but no less site-specific Old Joy, is a diminished, grunge Easy Rider. An aging Oregon hippie, one step from sleeping on the pavement, persuades his cautiously domesticated buddy, soon to be a father, to come out and play. Mark (Daniel London) is introduced meditating (or not) in his backyard. His very pregnant wife hovers disapprovingly in the background as he takes an unexpected call from his old friend Kurt (indie godlet Will Oldham). Mark wants to secure his wife's "permission" to flee from the family, albeit temporarily, with Kurt into the woods. Old Joy is an adventure out of time. The two spend a night under the stars and . . . nothing happens. Or maybe everything: Reichardt's evocatively low-key sense of nature seems closer to classic Japanese than current Amerindie cinema. Open-ended as it may appear, Old Joy has a crushing finality. For all the wool-gathering and guitar-noodling, this road movie is at least as tender as it is ironic.
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Writer: Jonathan Raymond and Kelly Reichardt
Producer: Lars Knudsen, Neil Kopp, Anish Savjani and Jay Van Hoy
Cast: Daniel London, Will Oldham, Tanya Smith, Robin Rosenberg, Keri Moran, Autumn Campbell, Steve Doughton, Matt McCormick, Darren Prolsen and Jillian Wieseneck