Synopsis by Josh Ralske
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.
friendship, camping, lost, trip