Kelly Reichardt’s contemplative US indie sophomore feature plays like a zen Sideways. Over a haiku-minimalist 76 minutes set to a dreamy Yo La Tengo score, we encounter two old friends who have taken different paths in their thirties. Mark (Daniel London) is a married father-to-be; Kurt (alt-country star Will Oldham), a drifter. When Kurt suggests a camping trip to the mountains, Mark gets his boots on.
What comes next? Deliverance-style wilderness nightmares, Blair Witch tent terror, Sideways-esque pre-marital sex mischief? It’s not that kind of trip. Reichardt’s film happens between the lines – or more precisely, between Oldham’s stoner babble and London’s reflective silence, as you realise time is changing the ground under the feet of their friendship and, by just-discernible implication, the country they live in.
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Old Joy is too slight to really haunt, but its subtlety is as treasurable as an old friend.