Rik Swartzwelder, Elizabeth Roberts. Drama/romance. Written & directed by Rik Swartzwelder.
FILM SYNOPSIS: Clay is a former frat boy, now a religious, hard-working carpenter/antique shop owner. Amber is a free-spirited woman who has just rented an upstairs apartment from Clay. He doesnít believe in kissing or even dating before marriage. She has been abused by each of her past lovers, so sheís intrigued by this quiet guy who wonít even set foot in the apartment. But there is an attraction. And despite his dogmatic beliefs, Amber pursues him, perhaps out of curiosity. Together they attempt the impossible: an "old-fashioned" courtship in contemporary America.
PREVIEW REVIEW: I do know a couple who never even kissed before getting married, and their marriage is an amazing one still going strong after twenty-five years. But theirs is the only such example I know of. This puritanical ritual harkens back to a time eons ago when parents did the spouse-picking. Today, that concept comes across as somewhat fanatical and more than a bit bizarre, even to those of us who believe we should respect biblical teachings and those we date.
Iím not sure what the point of this film is. Are the filmmakers suggesting we all abide by this concept of no intimacy until after the wedding? And does that really guarantee a wonderful wedded life?
Biblical interpretations that demand we all fall into a one-size-fits-all lifestyle seem right to one group, while off-putting to others who worship the same God: we must set aside this day or that to gather for worship; we must partake of communion once a week or once a year; we must read only from the King James Bible; or we must eat fish on Friday Ė all in an attempt to get right with the Lord. If these interpretations are done with the right motive they can indeed further a personís walk with Christ, and thereby make us a positive witness to others. But when such rituals become denominational dogma that demands complete uniformity, they may defeat their intended purpose.
The problem with Old Fashioned is that the lead is unmovable to the point that he canít even worship in church because others donít take his same path. And quite frankly, the rather blah performance given by writer/director/star Rik Swartzwelder gives his character a more disturbing nature than spiritual one. He may be a nice guy, even devout in his beliefs, but he comes across as a troubled soul.
We all deal with the guilt of past wrongdoing, but Clayís past deeds have overwhelmed him. He is, unintentionally, presented as a spooky figure you expect to see on the news one day after bodies are found in the basement.
I donít mean to make light of his convictions. An alcoholic, for example, must stay clear of any liquor in order not to fall back into old ways. Here, the filmís protagonist doesnít want to be the user of women he once was, so he avoids any temptation. But perception is often a destroyer of good intent.
The Bible is clear about not fornicating. Some intimacies should be saved for the marriage chamber. This just makes sense, as this determination brings a couple together in true marriage, as they cling to one another, forsaking all others. It reveals a respect for your life mate-to-be and the sanctity of the wedding vows. The film does present an alternative to finding love in all the wrong places. Alas, it does so in a strange way. Itís difficult to make a romantic movie without any display of passion other than frustration. This movie doesnít picture Christians as having something solid that differentiates them from those who ignore spiritual values, so much as just making us look nuts.