The Old man and the Gun is a totally watchable film of a true story, starring Robert RedfordDecember 7, 2018
THIS incredible true story about a guy called Forrest Tucker, who spent most of his life either robbing banks or escaping from prison, has been largely overshadowed by a few recent comments made by its star Robert Redford. The insinuation this was to be his final role caught everyone off guard, but the resulting appetite and reception for this glorious, twinkling Redford crime comedy will surely see him retracting that statement pronto.
Were it not an oxymoron, the phrase “They don’t make ’em like this any more” would be apt – this is such a watchable film.
Tucker, who had escaped from San Quentin jail aged 70 (!) is a compulsive robber – he doesn’t seem to particularly need the cash, but just looks as though he really enjoys walking into banks with his pals (Danny Glover and (wow) Tom Waits) and very politely asking them to fill his bag with readies, before calmly walking out. The sheer BALLS of the guy is extraordinary and shows how far you can get on manners and a smile. Due to their age, the gang are largely invisible to the wider world and there not being much in the way of security in banks, the “Over the Hill Gang” rack up conquest after conquest. The source of much embarrassment to the police, Detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck) makes it his personal goal to catch them.
Along the way Forrest forms a bond (I’m not sure it’s love) with a widow named Jewel (Sissy Spacek) which seems to sate his appetite if only for a while – we’re never really sure if either are committed to each other – but they certainly enjoy each others’ company – with Forrest perhaps testing the waters by persuading her to shoplift being a particular highlight.
This is a gentle and understated film, which just leans back, hands behind head and allows the unbelievable cast to have as much fun as they want. Danny Glover and a blooming glorious Tom Waits (who’s rant against Christmas is a real treat) bring a buddy element and Spacek seems to really relish trading chops with Redford.
This isn’t so much a nostalgic nod as an emotional homage to an era of cinema rarely seen. Redford’s past guises and even scenes are saluted (there are so many references to Butch Cassidy you half expect it to end in freeze-frame). Redford slathers a layer of reflection over this typically debonair and charming performance. If he shot this thinking it was his last, the last scene must have been a real wrench.
A chirpy soundtrack further adds character to David Lowery’s direction (Lowery directed A Ghost Story – one of my favourite films of the last 5 years) and as we get gently led through this implausible but mostly true story.
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The casting is so good it’s almost rude and I loved the fact that there was no rhyme or reason to his compulsion other than… he just really likes robbing banks. Forrest sums it up best himself:
“I’m not talking about making a living,”
”I’m just talking about living.”
The Old Man and the Gun puts you in a reflective and cosy mood.
If this is Redford’s last film I’ll eat everyone’s hat.