It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"That's what we're good at - shopping and talking." - Dialogue from "The New Age" Peter and Katherine Witner are conduits for vast amounts of money, which flow from their extravagant Beverly Hills salaries into the hands of the people they buy their lifestyle from. They live in a designer house with walls covered by "important" paintings, and their friends are as wealthy as themselves. Their personalities are made out of psychobabble and arrogance; they are obsessed with their toys, but, hey, you're okay, I'm okay, and that's okay.
Then one day they both find themselves out of work, with only enough cash in the bank to finance about 30 more days of opulence before the whole structure of their lives comes crashing down. "The New Age," Michael Tolkin's film about their dilemma, is a satire, but it avoids making them into easy targets. They're too vulnerable to really dislike; without their credit cards, they're like Boy Scouts without any way to start a campfire.
Tolkin knows the world of Peter and Katherine from the inside out, as he showed in his screenplay for "The Player," another X-ray of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. "The New Age" also has something in common with the 1992 film Tolkin wrote and directed, "The Rapture." It shows his characters caught up in the search for quick spiritual fixes. As their bank account shrinks, the Witners (played with frightening accuracy by Peter Weller and Judy Davis) turn to a series of gurus whose prescriptions run from meditation in the desert to all-night pool orgies.
This need to believe in something is almost required by the hedonistic lifestyles of the characters. While many spiritual programs advocate humility, the New Age beliefs of the Witners allow them to star as the objects of their own worship. If you feel right about yourself, if you think positive, if you send out the right aura, then success, of course, will come to you. The catch is that failure and poverty are therefore somehow your own fault, too.