Monday, February 16, 2015

Old Fashioned

Clay (Rik Swartzwelder) owns an antique shop in a small town. He's smart and kind and reserved... and single. And he seems to be the only person in his circle of friends who is okay with that; everyone else is constantly trying to set him up with someone or other. But Clay has a dark past full of relationships, and now that he's turned his back to that lifestyle, he's beginning to think that he is meant to be permanently single. Who would want someone with so many skeletons in their closet of memorabilia anyway? So when he rents out the upstairs apartment of his shop to a roaming, pretty girl named Amber, (Elizabeth Ann Roberts) who makes her interest in him impossible to ignore, things do everything but fall magically into place.

See, Clay has a theory, 9 years in the making, that consists of many ideas and even more statistics, but boils down to this: the outlook on dating and relationships that society takes for granted is all wrong. He'd tried it to an extreme, and all he saw come from it was misery, so now he wants to try the exact opposite -- something you might call "traditional," or "old fashioned" -- courting.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I  gave up childish ways. -- 1 Cor 13:11

As much as I would have liked to see a cute, modern-day classic courtship play out, that wouldn't have made for a very good movie. The filmmakers knew, and eventually Clay discovered, that every relationship is different, and even the most well-meaning plans can fall apart, not being one-size-fits-all. The base of Clay and this film's idea is the mindset behind the never ending search for a life-long partner, and that I think the film handled well. It encourages us to respect others and ourselves in our search; to not jump headlong into a steep slope of slippery fun, but to keep hold of what is important to us, and will still be important once the whirlwind dies down.

Old Fashioned is a Christian movie -- that is, it has a clear Christian message in it -- but it isn't overly preachy, one of my least favorite things about your average "Christian" flick. This one keeps it real, with real, flawed characters, and doesn't shy away from the darker, more grown-up themes the movie's plot required focus on, and I appreciated that.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. -- 1 Cor 13:13

It also had a nice artistic air, another unusual trait for this kind of flick. Movies are a form of art, so my opinion is that if you are going to endeavor to make one, no matter what point you want to get across, you have to make it artistic. Otherwise, it would be like sitting down to paint a beautiful scene on a canvas, but instead of painting the picture, you write on the canvas and describe the scene painstakingly in words. A lot of Christian films are only made into films to increase the audience, when they should have stayed as a non-fiction book. Old Fashioned occasionally plays like a book, with moral advice jumping to the screen as if it were straight from a page, but when it's not like that, it reaches a level I would call artistic.

This was mostly noticeable in the filming style, which was often lovely, and had some interesting symbolism. The script was probably the biggest downfall, and the acting landed somewhere in between. The supporting cast was good -- everyone is convincing and comfortable, and I was particularly impressed with Tyler Hollinger. The leading man is the most noticeably problematic, but probably only because he was the lead, and the character, being pretty complex was just too much for him. I wouldn't say he was terrible either. In fact I definitely need to give Swartzwelder props for being the lead, the writer, and the director -- he obviously had a lot on his plate, and handled it all very well. The leading lady now, she was the best on the acting front. Her character had a shallower arc, and fewer complexities, but she was so easily charming and natural, and kept the film light and engaging.

Love never ends. ... -- 1 Cor 13:8

As a romantic drama, it wasn't what I was hoping for. I prefer my romances to be comedies, and a few more laughs would have been very welcome, and necessary if this film was shooting to be a Certified Sarah's Favorite. But it wasn't made just for my personal enjoyment, and even if it isn't my kind of movie, I can definitely still appreciate the kind of movie it is. Upon letting go of my original expectations I found it a moving and honest drama that focused on more and deeper things than just the palpable romance -- some things a lot of films, and I fear people, may not even know exists.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. -- 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7


  1. thanks for this review! my mom really wanted to take my brothers to go see it, and Ive never seen the trailer or anything but when I heard about it I couldnt help but roll my eyes because....good Christian movies with a good message and not too cheesy or preachy are SO hard to do right. and adding romance....ha.

    so Im really glad to hear it wasnt like that at all. maybe I will go see it after all. lol.
    I especially liked that you sai

  2. sorry, didnt mean to publish that.

    I like you said they didnt shy away from the story of his past life. finally.

    1. My pleasure, Faith -- thank you! Yeah, it did an impressively good job balancing everything I thought. It doesn't quite reach the quality of your average secular movie of this style, but it wasn't nearly as bad as some other Christian movies either. I was definitely impressed with how they handled his past. If you see it I hope you enjoy it! :)