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It is funny to imagine “Old Joy” as the first rough sketch which through many iterations of script and casting later resulted in “The Trip”. Not two comedians but two… well… dudes…, one more the Just-back-from-Ashram type (and they leave it at that, no further explanations beyond “Made a totally different person, man!”), not posh restaurant testing, but hot springs, or rather one hot spring in the woods, which means to hollow trees and a stream of hot water running through it, no drug and sex affairs, only a little bit of constant weeding to keep the mind open, and an initially awkward physical moment of intimacy… it goes on and on, the parallels are very interesting, as if a (slightly crazy) producer had handed out the same task to two totally different directors, asking them to do whatever kind of film they would like to do (as long as it costs less than, say, the catering of an average Hollywood production). Maybe because I have seen the much more complete and elaborated “Trip” tv mini-series just days ago, Old Joy seems unfinished, with motives such as desperate and disappointed friendship, homo-eroticism, pregnant women’s feeling of being unable in life’s fun parts, … plenty, but each only vaguely mentioned. Maybe that is the film’s charm, that it does not need to elaborate on each of its issues, because at the end of the day, it is all so clear, and everybody can be expected to have the ability to think through what he has not seen. A very interesting and very short piece by Kelly Reichardt, who seems to be one of the critics’ darlings of the decade. Need to check out more of her work!

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