Updated: Feb 18, 2021
As with all movies on this website, our goal is not to provide a complete synopsis of the film, but rather to document how the movie relates to the meaning of life. With that said, be forewarned, there are still spoilers ahead.
The Old, Old Story was released in 2015 and was written/directed by Samuel Hathaway. The story revolves around Desiree, a seemingly average person preparing for an engagement party, preparing for a marriage with an extraordinarily successful business owner, Rex. All is going well for Desiree until a shadowy figure and friend of Rex enters the picture, Lou. Lou is a rationalist, believes only in logic, and that which is tangible. He doesn't think Desiree is good enough for Rex.
As Lou enters the picture, he begins to question Desiree on everything from the nature of love, to the meaning of life, causing her to in return question everything, even her engagement to Rex. As the movie would progress, eventually Desiree is able to turn the tables on Lou, and he begins to question his beloved logic and rationalism silently.
Lou said the following to Desiree early in the film:
I know the weight of Atlas. It's questions. To big to ignore. To heavy. 'Why are we here,' 'Why are we this way and not that way,' 'What do we believe'... You know it's funny, because on the one hand, you can brush them away as if they were just feathers on your check, and you can eat and copulate, and have a normal life. But on the other hand, those questions are they ancient, behemoth cornerstones of humanity, and brushing them away tears out everything...big..and beautiful.
You know the ultimate irony would be if those grand questions ended up not being very important at all. But I've never seen a convincing reason that they're not.
The dichotomy in the cast, Lou attempting to answer these behemoth questions through rationalism, Desiree through desire, passion, and emotions; and finally Rex through a combination of the two opposites, creates a philosophical atmosphere similar to that of in the movie, My Dinner with Andre. The setting is very similar, essentially two people conversing for the entire film... with the addition of a few characters here and there. Rex, only to make notable appearances in the beginning and the end.
Near the middle of the story, Lou and Desiree have a gripping discussion on suicide and the meaning of life. Perhaps similar to the quote by Vaclav Havel, Sometimes I wonder if suicides aren't in fact sad guardians of the meaning of life. A segment of the discussion can be found below.
Desiree: If there is nothing worth living for, then why are you still living?
Lou: People are born to live. I have a duty to better my species through righteousness.
Desiree: Back to rules.
Lou: They're not so bad. They're guildrails. For the fog.
Desiree: Sounds like the last step before suicide.
Lou: I'm not that depressed.
Desiree: You're severely bored. Just as bad.
Lou: Suicide's the coward's way out.
Desiree: How dare you!
Lou: What right would I have to kill myself! The entire world is straining to figure out life, including those who have been subjected to horrible, unspeakable evil, and then a white, middle-class American suddenly decides he has had enough burgers and offs himself? No, I won't do that.
Desiree: Why can't that person just comfort themselves with their beneficial resources until the bad mood passes? It doesn't make any sense Lou. Why is there suicide at all? What are we trying to get? We're hungry because there's food, we're horny because there's sex, and then we crave meaning because... why? It isn't concrete as food and sex, but the desire is there. And lacking it can kill us. My college professor thought that suicide was the only problem in philosophy. She wanted to know what drove healthy, successful people past Darwin and to the brink. Why they were so sad that they had to go looking for answers in the great beyond. I don't know if the answer to life is there. But that's where people go looking for it. For peace. My professor said that if we could figure out that question, then we'd have the answer to life. We'd know the thing that gives us meaning and the answer to why we're here, and every other question coming out of that. And if that question and answer is really universal, and if we're all searching for it, then more of us are suicidal than we think. And more dishonest too, since we're still living.
Desiree would go to talk about how relationships, family, etc. are the reasons she goes on living. Rex would later also reflect similar thoughts to Lou and Desiree.
Overall, the film is a discussion between two people, discussing philosophy and life. There isn't much beyond that. No action scenes, just slow conversation. So if this is not your type of movie, then you probably want to skip this one. If it is, you'll perhaps really enjoy it. It never quite hit the same magical levels of My Dinner with Andre, but it was still worth the watch, toying with God, with existence, with the absurd, and losing us in the wonder of it all. If we had all the answers, what would there be left for us to seek? Yet, it is these same questions that drive some of us to suicide. Through family and relationships, we can overcome this darkness and give life meaning, at least according to Desiree. Lou, on the other hand, views living as a Darwinian duty to better the species.
Other notable quotes:
Desiree: Life doesn't logic away to nothing. If you get rid of the universe and reduce it to yourself, you just find another one on the inside.
Overall - 6
Meaning of Life Relevance - 7
Uniqueness – 5
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