The Old Man & the Gun
dir-scr David Lowery
prd James D Stern, Dawn Ostroff, Jeremy Steckler, Anthony Mastromauro, Bill Holderman, Toby Halbrooks, James M Johnston, Robert Redford
with Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Tom Waits, Tika Sumpter, John David Washington, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Keith Carradine, Elisabeth Moss, Ari Elizabeth Johnson, Teagan Johnson
release US 28.Sep.18, UK 7.Dec.18
18/US Fox 1h33
The Old Man & the Gun
Good manners: Spacek and Redford

affleck glover waits
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Old Man & the Gun Based on a (mostly) true story, this comedy-drama features charming performances from Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek. Writer-director David Lowery assembles the film in period 1980s-style, never rushing an engaging cops and robbers caper that's packed with warm drama and knowing humour. It's so skilfully made that the audience can simply relax into the gently loping pace, loving every minute.

After robbing a bank in 1981 Dallas, Forrest (Redford) stops to help Jewel (Spacek), broken down along the road. And she never judges him when he tells her what he does. On his trail is sad-sack detective John (Affleck), especially galled to have been in the bank during one of Forrest's heists. He connects this "old man with a gun" to a series of robberies throughout the region. And as Forrest works with two cohorts (Glover and Waits) and develops his relationship with Jewel, he taunts John with little clues.

The robbery sequences and car chases are staged brilliantly, building tension in everyday rhythms, like jazz riffs. Forrest is a gentleman thief, so nice that the tellers are happy to hand over the cash. John certainly never suspects that he lives so close to his prey, with their paths ironically crossing from time to time. And this often cleverly transcends irony into knowing, earthy wit, played to perfection by the veteran cast.

Redford maintains a patient, sly sense of humour as a winning antihero who simply can't resist a good heist. His charisma dominates the film, and it's generously shared with the entire cast. Scenes with Spacek sparkle, as does his understated chemistry with Glover and Waits. Affleck is solid in his somewhat mopey role, with nice support from Sumpter and Washington (as his wife and partner, respectively), plus Moss and Carradine in cameos.

As Forrest says, this isn't about making a living, it's about living, period. This man simply loves the game and everything that goes along with it, including breaking out of prison 16 times (wait for a terrific montage). It's the kind of movie so smoothly made that we barely realise the skill that has gone into its production and performances. So it repeatedly generates a smile, or sometimes a chilling little jolt, always seeking to dig more deeply into the characters. And by avoiding superficial flash, it unfolds as the kind of movie we wish more people made.

cert 12 themes, language 18.Nov.18

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall