Tuesday, December 04, 2018

The Old Man & the Gun – vintage Robert Redford in piece of beautifully slow cinema (from 7 December)

Sit back and relax. You’re in safe hands. Robert Redford won’t let you down.

The Old Man & the Gun is the 82 year old actor’s last film, a fond farewell that is as charming and cheerful as its title character, an ageing gentleman who carries a gun but never fires it when robbing banks.

While based on the true-life activity of serial bank robber Forrest Tucker, the also film manages to verbally and visually reference Redford’s back catalogue of movies. Redford gives the geriatric heist artist Tucker a distinctive swagger as he enters each new bank branch with nail polish disguising his finger prints.

While withdrawing money from banks is his way of life, there’s a loneliness about Tucker, even as the leader of his serial geriatric heist gang (Danny Glover and Tom Waits). Something sparks with a widow he meets while making a getaway, and the audience are left for a while to guess whether this is real or just another con.

The Old Man & the Gun is slow cinema. Beautifully slow cinema that strikes the delicate balance between relaxed storytelling and suspense. David Lowery’s screenplay (based on David Grann’s article in the New Yorker) consistently conceals enough detail about the plot to keep your mind busy evaluating the options during the on-screen downtime, and somehow the serial geriatric heist artist ingratiates rather than imitates. (The audience are never troubled into worrying about the victims of his crimes.)

Nothing is over-acted. While Redford is the centre of attention, Sissy Spacek’s performance as his new squeeze brings a lovely warmth to the screen. There’s a lovely cameo from Elisabeth Moss and Casey Affleck plays the restless, tousle-haired Detective John Hunt who cracks open the multi-state spate of robberies before the Feds frustratingly trample all over his investigation.

The slow pace of the film is greatly enhanced by a great blues and jazz soundtrack which make some of the most lethargic scenes feel like you’ve been stood up in a hotel bar in the happiest way possible.

With a couple of mentions of Christmas, The Old Man & the Gun is the perfect antidote to anyone who feels rushed and hassled by the festive seasons. Sit back, relax and enjoy an hour and a half of sepia-tinged vintage Robert Redford. And stay for the credits to marvel at Jade Healy’s role as Wallpaper Whisperer!

In cinemas including Movie House and Queen’s Film Theatre from Friday 7 December.

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