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MOVIE REVIEWS: FTN reviews The Old Man & The Gun

December 8th, 2018 by Mark McCann Comments

The Old Man & The Gun (12a)
Director: David Lowery
Stars: Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek and Casey Affleck
Running time: !hr 33mins

Based on the true story of Forrest Tucker and his audacious escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to an unprecedented string of heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public.

Films like The Old Man & the Gun are always a surprise, because outside of tentpole Hollywood, you don’t expect them to be made anymore. Where is the profit in these small yet satisfying bites of Americana, and how on earth do they get funding in an industry where creativity is at the behest of the bottom line?

I don’t have the answers. Maybe these aren’t even the right questions. But what I can tell you is that the Old Man and the Gun offers us that rare glimpse at the Hollywood we only see once in a while. It’s a career swansong, yes. But also, a subtle, delightful and minimally shot aesthetic.

Director David Lowery returns us to the early 80’s by way of the 70’s, and had I not known walking in that this was a modern movie, I would have taken it for the sort of satisfying offering that came from that period. Something that was there to scratch an itch, not necessarily make bank. It was a riskier business, and this feels like it.

Sure, there could be accusations of Oscar bait, and that’s fine. The performances here from the ageing cast are so delightful, so captivating and natural as to warrant just that. Glover, Tom Waits (a sometimes scene stealer) and the younger Affleck are understated and charming, but it’s Spacek and Redford who really bring it home. Redford’s twinkling charisma as an ageing con addicted to the thrill of the theft and Spacek as his shy, maternal anchor, really are a beautiful romance.

The story, based on the NewYorker article of a real-life old man thief plucks at the heartstrings and reminds viewers of those old-time rogue and folk heroes from the myth of America. While there’s a smattering of bitter to flesh out the realism, this film, in everything from the direction to the acting to the sounds of the 70’s soundtrack, is a heart-warmer. It’s the sort of cliché that critics fall over themselves to write about, but that’s not always a bad thing, and in this case I think the audience might agree.

This might be Robert Redford’s final film, and if it is, it’s a swell way to say goodbye. With style, panache and that old-time charm that you just don’t get anymore. Call me sentimental, but I hope you love this as much as I did.

5 out of 5 Nerds

I came here in a time machine from the 1980s. The time machine was called childhood. I'm getting back there at all costs! (I also live, love, write, lift & pet cats wherever I may find them.)