Old Joy

Director: Kelly Reichardt
Screenwriters: Jon Raymond, Kelly Reichardt

Institute History

  • 2006 Sundance Film Festival


Two old friends, Mark and Kurt, reunite for a weekend camping trip in the mountains outside Portland, Oregon. Kurt is still the free spirit, unrooted, drifting through life, but Mark has moved on, with a serious relationship and baby on the way. As the hours progress and the landscape changes, the two men move through a range of subtle emotions that trigger unfamiliarity with the new terrain in their relationship. What will be the rules of their continued friendship?

Kelly Reichardt returns to Sundance (River of Grass screened at the 1994 Festival) with a fully realized exploration of the desire to rekindle that which you once had. The textured score by Yo La Tengo fits perfectly, but it is the rich sound design that amplifies the notion that the real story is being told in the silences. Reichardt purposefully encodes the road trip and search for natural hot springs with the metaphors that explore our innate desire to renew old freedoms.

The joy referred to in the title is the pleasure of male bonding in a world unfettered by anything but youthful idealism. Of course we know we can't go back, but what takes its place? What makes Old Joy so moving is that we discover joy can still exist; it just looks and feels different.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

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