A day at the beach = a lifetime. With Old, M. Night Shyamalan explores accelerated aging behind closed doors. Gael García Bernal gives us some leads on this nebulous concept film, a free adaptation of the Sand Castle comic.
Old’s synopsis and trailer remain very vague. How would you define the film? Is it a thriller? A survival? A fantastic drama?
I would say a metaphysical thriller. But that’s just my little advice! The reference Night had in his mouth all the time was Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel : people are stuck in one place, can’t get out and don’t know why. A surrealist starting point, but one that must be integrated immediately. In this case, the characters of Old are on vacation and discover a sublime beach. A place where we would like to take refuge to escape the world. But what if we could never leave it again? It’s almost a Greek tragedy!
There is this notion of time which passes at an unthinkable speed, making the characters age visibly and bringing them inexorably closer to death …
Yes, which obviously adds urgency and a good layer of anxiety existential. It’s fast-paced suspense. But I won’t say more about it. ( Laughs. ) I thought that prosthetics to age us were going to be a hassle every day, and that with the heat and the sand, we were going to have to go back to makeup every two hours. In fact it was like a second skin that didn’t move all day. I never thought I would say that one day, but it even helped me play better!
What will be the mark of Shyamalan in Old ?
Hmm… Surely this way of constantly playing with what’s out of the picture. Night is in the economy of plans and with very little, he deploys a staging that says it all. We have the feeling that the unexpected can arise at any moment. That is purely “Shyamalien”! The real difference with his other feature films is that the device is theatrical, stripped down: unity of place, very few sets… It’s a real challenge to make this type of film work in these conditions. Especially since he shot in 35 mm, very risky in such a bright environment. Other directors would have taken it for a constraint, making it a real plus for the film.
Glass seemed to wrap up a chapter in his career and…
( Cut us off. ) Yes, Old is opening another. It’s always interesting to see a great director reach a milestone in terms of maturity. I saw his entire film again when I accepted the role, and it’s impressive when you look straight away: you can tell that a reinvention is underway. He is a director who has developed a cinema language all his own, but who is never satisfied with it because he likes to experiment. I don’t know what’s going on in his head, but I’m already curious to see his next movie. And with any luck, he’ll even find me a role!