Old Fashioned Displays an Archaic View of Women
Old Fashioned is not a subtle film, nor is it an engaging or compelling story. Rather it is a ham-fisted collection of platitudes and caricatures of people, delivering a faith based take on relationships and dating. The heavy-handed way writer and director Rik Swartzwelder delivers his thesis is alienating, and dry as a communion wafer. The absolute worst part of this film is watching Swartzwelder’s treatment of women. The women in the film are one-dimensional, they exist only to talk about men, and they all work in a flower shop. The way the characters are written, and treated reveals a low opinion of women, dressed up as a very high fanatical Victorian opinion of women. For this film to be billed as a romance is insulting to anything that is genuinely romantic. I watched this with my wife, or I should say I started watching this with my wife. I finished watching it alone, after she walked out of the room with more than one harsh word. I will not print what she said, but it was far less flattering than I am going to be.
A romantic-drama, OLD FASHIONED centers on Clay Walsh, a former frat boy who gives up his carousing and now runs an antique shop in a small Midwestern college town. There, he has become notorious for his lofty and outdated theories on love and romance. When Amber Hewson, a free-spirited young woman with a restless soul, drifts into the area and rents the apartment above his shop, she finds herself surprisingly drawn to his noble ideas, which are new and intriguing to her. And Clay, though he tries to fight and deny it, simply cannot resist being attracted to her spontaneous and passionate embrace of life. Ultimately, Clay must step out from behind his relational theories, and Amber must overcome her own fears and deep wounds, as the two of them, together, attempt the impossible: an “old-fashioned” courtship in contemporary America.
As I had said before, this film is as subtle as a Christmas ham. The concept is too simple to fill a full-length feature. Everything was one note, the charters, the plot points, the dialogue, and those single notes were hammered, again, and again. At the halfway mark, I was afraid it would never end. When it finally did end, I had no sense of resolution, because I couldn’t possibly care less about anyone in the film. I will say that Swartzwelder is a competent director; the film was well made, well shot. What I will also say is that Swartzwelder cannot direct himself, and his is a poor actor, unable to offer any range. His dialogue delivery is awkward and forced. He sounds unnatural, which is a significant problem because most of the dialogue is his. The dialogue as a whole was almost entirely platitude, and lifeless. I am not sure what offended me more, the poor writing, the dreadful dialogue, the wooden acting, the boring gaussian cinematography, the false sense of romance. Perhaps it was the idea that women are anything other than completely equal human beings that should be treated with the same respect as every other human being.