The Old Man and the Gun, 2018.
Directed by David Lowery.
Starring Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Tom Waits and Tika Sumpter.
Forrest Tucker is a bank robber. An elderly one and a gentleman. He’s spent plenty of time in prison because of his bad habit but he can’t give it up. And even at the age of 70, he can’t resist temptation, staging a string of heists across the country which captures the public imagination in the 1980s. On his tail is a dogged cop and a woman who loves him, despite everything. Based on a true story.
Movies without Robert Redford? It’s hard to imagine but, if reports surrounding The Old Man and the Gun are correct, it could happen. He was extensively quoted as saying it would be his last movie but, more recently, sounds less certain about it. Whatever, his performance in the latest from director David Lowery has to rank among his very best. And, if it does turn out to be his last, he’s gone out on a vertigo-inducing high.
He plays a habitual bank robber, one Forrest Tucker who has reached 70 and still loves what he does. He’s been caught more times than he’d like to remember – but he can – gone to prison on numerous occasions and been on the run just as often. As far as he’s concerned, it’s all about living: the fact that he has the police on his tail just adds a little spice. But he has one person rule that he never breaks. No violence. He may show the unsuspecting bank tellers a gun as a way of getting what he wants, but he never fires it. He is the perfect gentleman, such a charmer that staff genuinely believe his initial request to open a new savings account. And when questioned by the police, they all say what a nice guy he is.
He’s a charmer, just like the film itself, which exudes nostalgia both for the 80s in which it is set and for Redford’s film career: his fake moustache is a near-throwback to The Sundance Kid and, as we discover more about his history, we’re treated to photographs of him down the years. So, despite his more slippery and enigmatic side, it’s impossible not to fall for him all over again. Jewel (Sissy Spacek) feels exactly the same. It also means it’s impossible not to fall for the film as a whole. Under Lowery’s direction, it glows with a deliciously unsentimental warmth and works its magic so effortlessly – Redford in particular – that we’re more than willing to be captivated.
This is no gun-toting bank heist movie, more one about life, however we live it. For Tucker, the thrill of the robbery comes first so that, even though he has two accomplices (Danny Glover and Tom Waits), known to the public as the Over The Hill Gang (as opposed to Hole In The Wall), he’s the only one who ever walks into the bank to do the deed. That moment in the spotlight has to be his. But he still has time for other secondary pleasures, ones that come with being out of prison, from riding a horse to enjoying a movie with Jewel by his side. Simple pleasures, but ones that make life worthwhile.
Inevitably, this is Redford’s film, pure and simple. Casey Affleck is relegated here to a support role as the determined cop and, in truth, we’ve seen him do this type of role before. And, even if the other members of the gang are more than a little sketchy, they happily fulfil their most important role – supporting Redford. Oozing charm, nostalgia and sheer class, The Old Man and the Gun is one of this year’s cinematic treats.
The Old Man And The Gun was shown at the London Film Festival on Friday, 12th and Saturday, October 13th , with a final screening on Saturday, October 20th. It is released in the UK on December 7th 2018.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Freda Cooper. Follow me on Twitter.