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Older

By Bradley Gibson | November 7, 2020

Older, written, directed, and starring Guy Pigden, is a delightfully earnest romantic comedy about a young adult man prolonging his adolescence, living in his parent’s basement. He is stuck in a moment, trying to hold on to the parts of his life that, instead of enriching him, prevent him from growing up. He finds himself suddenly trying to differentiate between sex and love, and must ultimately decide whether to focus on a fading past or a bright future.

Alex (Pigden) is a 29-year old would-be screenwriter in Auckland, New Zealand, who encounters two women when attending the wedding of his friend, Henry (Harley Neville). One is his high school crush, Stephanie (Astra McLaren), with whom he’s had an on and off friends-with-benefits arrangement. The other is Jenny (Liesha Ward Knox), whom he hadn’t seen in years but was friends with in school. He’s still obsessed with Stephanie, while Jenny is obsessed with Henry, her old flame. Henry and his wife have been dragged kicking and screaming into adulthood by the arrival of their child.

“…stuck in a moment, trying to hold on to parts of his life that…prevent him from growing up.”

Stephanie is a gorgeous, successful model, living a high octane lifestyle bankrolled by her career. Jenny is happy at her coffee shop, with no real intention to have any more responsibilities. When Alex and Jenny chat at the wedding, sparks fly, and life begins to change. Pigden avoids romantic cliches by giving his lead characters a snarky cynicism about relationships, and they never let that go. Humor replaces schmaltz, and that is refreshing.

There have been so many films at this point about young men refusing to grow up and accept adult responsibilities that they arguably form a new genre. Not “rites of passage,” but rather, “rites of stagnation.” It’s funny and pathetic. In fact, it’s funny because it’s pathetic. If the story isn’t handled with great care, it can be nothing more than cheap rubbernecking at someone else’s train wreck of a life. While the arrested development tendencies of a certain privileged segment of society have been noteworthy for a couple of generations now, it’s hard to argue that it’s a universal human experience. However, what is universal is the struggle to understand the importance of human connection and how to sort through relationships that matter, compared to ones you should, perhaps, have given up to nostalgia long ago.

Older (2020)

Directed and Written: Guy Pigden

Starring: Guy Pigden, Harley Neville, Peter Coonan, Astra McLaren, Liesha Ward Knox, etc.

Movie score: 9/10

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"…a cautionary tale for young people that sooner or later the excesses of youth will fall flat..."

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