The Old Man & The Gun (2018)

The Old Man & The Gun, directed by David (A Ghost Story) Lowery and starring Robert Redford, is a lovely little pared-down film, based on a true story.

Old School

by Alexa Dalby

The Old Man & The Gun

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Robert Redford, at 82, in what’s almost a homage to the roles he’s played in his long career, is veteran gentleman bank robber Forrest Tucker. He’s always smartly dressed and betrilbeyed, apparently needing to use a hearing aid, unfailingly polite when he asks the bank cashier to hand over the cash and, despite his weapon, always unthreatening.

The title is presumably a play on Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, a story of obsession. Redford’s character is a compulsive too. He can easily do four or five robberies in a day, yet he lives a rootless, unshowy life. In fact, crossing state lines is a secret of his success, on top of his being so charming and roguish that it’s almost a pleasure to be robbed by him. Though he’s been in and out of prison all his life, he’s made more escapes than Houdini.

But in Texas in 1981, he meets Jewel (Sissy Spasek), in a wonderful performance as a widow of a similar age. A gentle, touching love affair blooms between the elderly people: the quiet chemistry between the two positively radiates. Oh, that smile!

But though it seems that Forrest might at last settle down, he’s still being doggedly pursued by Detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck), who’s just as compulsive as he is. He’s determined to catch Forrest and his ‘Over-The-Hill gang’ (Danny Glover and Tom Waits) as well. Forrest delights in outsmarting and good-humouredly teasing him – and there seems to be no malice on either side.

Directed by David (A Ghost Story) Lowery, it’s a lovely little pared-down film, based on a true story. The soundtrack has well-chosen, appropriately soft jazz. As a bonus, there’s a brief appearance by Elisabeth Moss as the daughter Forrest didn’t know he had. But other than that, Forrest remains a delightful mystery as he floats lightly through life – and that’s absolutely fine.

The Old Man & The Gun screened at the BFI London Film Festival and is released on 7 December 2018 in the UK.

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