Directed by: #GuyPigden
Written by: #GuyPigden
Some evenings, you’re mindlessly scrolling Facebook, and you see 100 likes under the picture of a ring, a wedding photo, an eight-week scan. You then feel the drop in your stomach as you realise that these are all your schoolmates, and you’re sitting on the settee, struggling to recover from the night before. You feel out of place, as though all your school friends have leapfrogged over you in that great game of life. This describes the main character of New Zealand film, Older, to a tee. Alex Lucas (Guy Pigden) is nearing thirty and subsists on a routine of drugs, games, booze, gym and porn all while living unemployed in his parents’ house.
Older blurs the lines between romantic comedy, coming-of-age story and drama and follows Alex as he finally learns to grow up. Alex should be a blueprint of a pathetic character. He aimlessly spends his days in his bedroom, living more like a teenage boy than an adult, to the point where it seems that Alex has almost been cryogenically frozen from his seventeen-year-old self. Not only does the main character act like a kid, but he is utterly preoccupied with the girls he was obsessed with in high school. He can’t decide between the gorgeous Stephanie (Astra McLaren) and new best friend Jenny (Liesha Ward Knox). Some great loser characters are sitting in the film and TV halls of fame from The Office’s David Brent to Phoebe Waller Bridge’s Fleabag. Alex is not one of them; instead, this man child is bizarrely transformed into a Lothario, a Hugh Grant style comic who is inexplicably good with the ladies, and despite his failings, gives the audience a smug grin.
As Alex battles through the difficulty of realising that he has to grow up, the themes fail to tap into anything substantial. Any conclusions Alex does come to seem to be recycled rhetoric from a John Hughes movie. Rather than meaningfully comment on the situation that many men find themselves in at the end of their twenties, this film pulls us back and dumps us into the position of our sixteen-year-old selves. This film is more obsessed with finding the fountain of youth than providing the story with well fleshed out characters. The soulless characters only result in performances that stumble, with only Jenny meaningfully resonating with the audience.
Older is occasionally droll, but the humour is often too immature and lacks the sparkling wit it needs to really cement itself as a comedy. On the other hand, the drama lacks a certain sense of realism, and the chemistry between the leads doesn’t feel authentic. However, the cinematography doesn’t lose its lustre. The initial uses of montage are wickedly funny, and texts are pulled up on the screen in an incredibly inventive manner. The flashback scenes are potentially the best part of the production. Cleverly set in a different aspect ratio with brown tinting, these flashback scenes quietly push you back into a rose-tinted past. Despite how polished and wonderfully shot Older is, it’s not enough to turn back time.
Like a pubescent teenager, Alex is awkward, horny and immature. The feature film Older has inherited similar problems. This is an awkward film with plenty of growing room but ultimately, much like a teenage boy, feels a little immature and directionless.