starring Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Alex Wolff
screenplay by M. Night Shyamalan, based on the graphic novel Sandcastle by Pierre-Oscar Lévy and Frederick Peeters
directed by M. Night Shyamalan
by Walter Chaw M. Night Shyamalan is a brilliant filmmaker and an arrogant storyteller, and sometimes that works out pretty well (see: The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable). More often, it yields wildly mixed results where his savant-like mastery of the visual wars with the pedantic, childish, even messianic tendencies of his writing. Imagine if Spielberg wrote all his own movies instead of merely tacking his tidy happy endings on them. There's possibly a paper in how the degree of obstreperousness in Shyamalan's cameos has a direct correlation to the film's obnoxiousness. My favourite Hitchcock cameo is in Notorious, where Hitch has himself drinking a glass of champagne at a party at a Nazi's house, thus, through a series of events, accelerating the discovery of our heroic secret agent. But Hitch never cast himself, as Shyamalan has, in extended speaking roles that have found him playing a prophet writing a new Bible (Lady in the Water), delivering key exposition in a protracted flashback (Signs), and serving as the beneficiary of the most complicated camera set-up to deliver the twist in an otherwise transfixing, transporting picture (The Village). Tarantino used to do garbage like that, and, predictably, this was reliably the worst part of a Tarantino movie. For a while, after Shyamalan went through a pronounced humbling (The Happening, The Last Airbender, After Earth), he cut the shit for a trio of tight, nasty, mostly-glorious, largely career-resuscitating little thrillers (The Visit, Split, Glass). With his latest, Old, he's got his confidence back, and that's...bad.