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No joy

Video | Try to romanticize a post-hippie reunion

Issue: "Ideal Idol," June 2, 2007

Few besides film critics have seen Old Joy, Kelly Reichardt's experimental art-house film about two old hippie friends that is now available on DVD. But the film-which is unrated but would probably earn an R rating for language and drug use-garnered glowing reviews from secular critics. (New York Times critic Mahohla Dargis called Old Joy "one of the finest American films of the year.")

Mark (Daniel London) and Kurt (Will Oldham) are old friends who have grown apart over the years until Kurt invites Mark to a weekend camping trip into Oregon's backcountry. Mark approaches the trip with a sense of foreboding-the kind of foreboding you get when you know you're about to spend more than a day with an insecure pot-head hippie loser who never grew up and never seems to shut up. That's Kurt. He's annoying, but post-hippie guilt won't allow Mark to turn him down.

While trying to find a secluded hot springs, Kurt emotionally unloads on Mark in a way that's supposed to be poignant: Look at what the world has done to poor, innocent Kurt who never fully self-actualized. If the language of the film sounds foreign to most Christians, it's because it carries with it a confused worldview that, since dispatching God from the equation, can't quite reckon what life's supposed to look like. In doing so, Old Joy attempts to romanticize something that will seem lame to the average viewer.

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