Going in to see this film with my wife, I was not sure what to expect. The trailers looked hopeful, but what kind of title is “Old Fashioned”? Then, as the reel began to roll, my doubts were soon replaced with captivation. Indeed, “Old Fashioned” is a much-needed and much-welcomed breath of fresh air in the atmosphere of filmmaking — sacred and secular alike! It is inspirational, artistic and chock-full of beautiful imagery and symbolism. As a believer, there are only a handful of romantic films that I can confess to liking. But this humble independent film breaks cultural expectations to present a moving and often humorous, romantic-drama of love and respect.
The movie centers on Clay (Rik Swartzwelder), an old-fashioned kind of guy with a troubled past who runs an antique shop in a small town, and Amber (Elizabeth Ann Roberts), a spontaneous woman running from one adventure to the next. Clay responds to life by trying to fix everything, and Amber’s M.O. is to run away, but if their “old-fashioned” romance is to succeed then they must both learn to love and let go.
Theatrically Theological Themes
“Old Fashioned” could be a classroom case study in recurring themes. So many creative portrayals of life and love are captured for the audience. For one, there is the theme of brokenness and redemption. When the film begins, Amber has a broken arm. As her arm heals, her heart heals. In fact, Clay and Amber’s relationship is founded through brokenness — Amber continues to break things so that Clay has to fix them. Also, Clay is seen several times trying to fix an old love seat. The process of repair that this love seat takes parallels the process that Clay goes through as he learns to accept healing and forgiveness.
Another theme throughout the movie is that of choices. Many frames show a screenshot of a character’s feet in front of a door’s threshold. Sometimes the door represents temptation, sometimes it represents freedom, but it always represents a choice of whether to walk through or not.
I do not think the characters’ names are a coincidence either. Clay is literally like a piece of clay in the Potter’s hands. He is also a carpenter of sorts, which lends further to the metaphor of being crafted. Amber, like the fiery-golden color, may be the flame that God uses to refine Clay. The allusions just continue on.
The greatest component of this film is that it has real main characters. Or at least they feel real, and that is the most important thing to good story-telling: good characters. You get the sense that these characters have real lives with a real past, and they make decisions like real people. We as the audience are invited to witness a special moment in their lives. A movie suffers terribly and cannot resonate with audiences when characters are only inserted to support a pre-existing plot. But “Old Fashioned” resonates loud and clear.
The production quality for this film is quite impressive, especially given its lower indie budget. The cinematography is exceptional. Especially in the beginning, the film showcases different filters, giving a nod towards the idea of being old fashioned. Throughout the film parallel scenes do a terrific job of contrasting characters. The soundtrack is one of the absolute best I have heard in a romantic-drama. And something which I absolutely love about the film is just how self-aware it is. At times the dialogue is cheesy, but this is obviously intentional, and the movie is able to laugh at itself when characters express that Clay’s ideas are kind of “on the nose.”
Just an opinion, but I often find that films can struggle when they are written, directed and starred by the same person such as this one. I also cannot help but think that this movie suffered from a strict deadline to make it by Valentine’s Day. But the biggest thing I left wanting was to practically see Clay’s chivalrous character and not just hear about it. The tagline for the film was: “Chivalry makes a comeback,” but this was not even the major message of the movie — it was about the healing power of love. Granted, I believe most of these issues could easily be fixed with an Extended Director’s Cut.
Love is “Old Fashioned”
Love is many a wonderful thing, and “Old Fashioned” defines it well. I would encourage all to watch it with an open mind, a soft heart and a perceptive eye. As art, film is definitely open for interpretation, and I believe this one is worth multiple viewings to better grasp some of the symbolism. As for the title, you know, I am not sure I could come up with a better name, so hooray for being “Old Fashioned!”
Finley is a graduate of Liberty University and currently working as a freelance adventurer. He can be reached at: [email protected]