Friday, February 12, 2010

Old Joy

I finally watched Kelly Reichardt's Old Joy, a film I kept missing at Rotterdam a few years ago and have not made a chance to see since then. It was perfect for my flight from Denver to New Orleans- and a glimpse of male nudity always perks up an airplane row!

"Sorrow is just worn out joy" is the line, spoken by freewhellin' Kurt (Will Oldham), that the title comes from, and I've been trying to think about how this is the theme of the film. The weepy Pacific Northwest is certainly the perfect setting for such a theme, and the buddy movie aspect of old friends coming to terms with adulthood in their own particular ways was a good context for this emotional nostalgia. It's largely a film about just that: male bonding, manhood, masculinity, life responsibilities, growing up, becoming an adult, procreation... It made me think about the man-friend-couples I know and how they are and aren't allowed to express their affection for one another, what is an acceptable amount of attachment, and how friend-pairs sometimes grow apart as much as romantic pairs.

The context of Mark's (Daniel London) wife's pregnancy is also interesting to me with regard to the fact that his pending fatherhood is mentioned only briefly at the beginning of the men's brief camping trip. Yet it is the coming infant intruder that seems to so threaten Kurt, or at least it is a manifestation of Mark's increasing distance from their friendship, a threat that seems in some way to be the cause of Kurt's current sorrow. I kept thinking about how different it would be if Kurt and Mark were women, going on a camping trip right before a birth like that, how omnipresent that coming presence would be in its advent. But this was a bromance, and that was the point.

1 comment:

g6 said...

Such a gentle and dreamy film. Of course, watching this was oddly timed to Humpday (a remake without the "re-", so what does that make it? oh right... robbery.) Then I checked out I Love You Man so as to complete the bro-mance trilogy. Painful. Stick with Old Joy y'all. Reichardt got it right. A funny bit on beta's blog about the connections: