Director: David Lowery
Cinematography: Joe Anderson
Writers: David Lowery, David Gran
Stars: Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover
In “Old Man & the Gun,” Robert Redford (Forrest Tucker) delivers a meaningful sendoff to his career with a performance that sums up his career with the perfect type of character. This is the charming story that, simply put, is about living life and being happy.
David Lowery was responsible for the most unconventional experience of 2017 with “A Ghost Story.” In Old Man & The Gun, Lowery’s narrative style took a left turn and ended up shooting a very conventional, slow-paced, and a middling film that beats around the point. Once the amazement of Forrest Tucker calmly robbing banks in his 80’s wares, the engagement of the film drops off and it feels as if the film coast to the end. The motivations of each character don’t seem to matter by the time the credits roll.
Redford handpicked the story (David Grann’s Guardian article), the director, and knew he was the star in the production. It backed Lowery into a creative corner and didn’t completely allow him to flex his imaginative chops. The film is centered around Redford and certain aspects hurt because of that.
For my money, Redford is the sole reason to see this movie. He fits like a glove into this character and his relationship and chemistry with Jewel (Sissy Spacek) is felt. How nonchalantly and seemingly oblivious he is to consequences is what makes this such a memorable performance. It’s a fairly internal character, battling with his true nature of being a criminal, and Redford brings that out. However, the scenes that don’t include moments from Redford are bland.
Nothing is particularly memorable outside of Redford and the soundtrack that frankly is the best creative decision in the film. The editing and cinematography were fine, but with a story paced so slowly and the filmmaking is so basic it’s difficult to stay fully engaged. It’s not bad filmmaking, but it’s not entirely noteworthy and that hurts when the story is so shallow. John Hunt, Casey Affleck’s character, barely even matters in the story.
Outside of heist scenes, the moments of reflection are a sharp turn in tone and while the loving relationship between Forrest and Jewel is one of the best aspects of the film, it kept the story grounded and made for a less interesting experience. It became more about the relationship than his love of bank robbery. That said, the ending captures his true feelings perfectly. Back to the shallowness of the plot, the film adds in a lot of filler to string the characters along. For example, the montage sequence near the end felt so forced and didn’t fit with the rest of the film (even though it’s a great montage).
Watching this film is like being swaddled as the charm and passion from Redford’s portrayal layers the film. But when the film loses its charm, it becomes a standard heist romance film that loses its narrative punch.