“Mom, I’m right here,” says strapping teenager Trent to a horrified Prisca in Old, the new movie by M. Night Shyamalan. What kind of mother wouldn’t recognize her handsome, loving son? One who only moments before had seen her boy as an eight year old.
The story follows a group of guests, which includes, among others, Prisca’s husband Guy and her daughter Maddox, who find themselves aging suddenly at a secluded beach resort from which no one can check out. As with the director’s acclaimed film The Sixth Sense, Old has a surprise ending. There will be no spoiler alerts here, or even a review. Truth be told, thrillers don’t thrill me.
What drew me in was an interest in seeing how the idea of aging would be handled. The horror of this horror movie is that, in the blink of an eye, you will no longer be young. How scary is that?
Aren’t We Past the Fear of Aging Thing?
At one point in the film, Prisca looks at Guy and shrieks, “You’ve got wrinkles.” Okay, I understand the alarm because two seconds prior his chiseled, sun-kissed complexion was smooth. IRL, laugh lines (or as the award-winning actor Frances McDormand refers to her creases: a road map) don’t happen overnight. Isn’t that part of the beauty of going through life with a partner? You deal with stuff together (sickness, a struggling child, career setbacks, elderly parents, etc.) and end up with the same wrinkles; the trade off is that for every wrinkle, the two of you have the chance to reminisce.
But seriously, aren’t we past the fear of aging thing? Not only because actors like Michelle Pfeifer and Sharon Stone are as beautiful as ever, Christie Brinkley is a modern-day Benjamin Button and 70-something Dame Helen Mirren is frolicking on the beach in a bikini, but also because Instagram has a myriad of accounts devoted to 50+ women who possess the “wow” factor.
What About the Kids?
Old also made me think of so many parents I’ve encountered who seem shocked that children grow up so quickly. I’m surprised they don’t walk around all day singing “Sunrise, Sunset.” When daughter Maddox—now a young woman in an orange bikini—asks a dumbstruck Guy, “Dad, why are you looking at me like that?” it’s because moments before she was a pre-teen in a modest two-piece of the same material.
My son Luke is 26 and his sister Meg is 23. The past quarter century has felt like, well, about 25 years with the natural progression of things taking their due course, for which I am grateful. Once when they were little and playing peacefully with two other kids, the mother of those children said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if they could stay this age forever?” No, no it wouldn’t.
I want my kids Luke and Meg to experience every phase of a long life, and like their parents, to know what it’s like to comb gray hair, although my husband Neil and I prefer the descriptor “salt & pepper.”
The one positive I took away from Old, which I guess could merit a spoiler alert, is that when Prisca and Guy begin to rapidly advance in years, they confess to each other their regrets and the desires they never pursued. But mostly they wish they had been nicer to one another. This is, unfortunately, wisdom that only comes with age.
Lorraine Duffy Merkl is a freelance writer and novelist. Her third book, The Last Single Woman in New York City, will be published by Heliotrope Books.