29 December 2018 | TheLittleSongbird
The last hurrah
Touted as Robert Redford's final film, its main interest point, 'The Old Man and the Gun' interested me even further with positive word of mouth from trusted friends and critics and being among the higher rated films of the year. Alongside ever charming Redford, having the likes of Danny Glover, Tom Waits, Casey Affleck and Sissy Spacek in the same film and that it was directed by David Lowery (best known to me for 'A Ghost Story' and 'Pete's Dragon', found myself liking both in their own way for different reasons, although the former is very polarising) also promises a lot.
While not without its issues, 'The Old Man and the Gun' has a huge amount to recommend and its best assets are pretty wonderful. It very nearly became one of my favourite films of the year, and although it doesn't quite reach that it still is one of 2018's better films from personal opinion and every bit as deserving of the praise it's garnered. That is saying a fair bit as it has been a hit and miss year. And if it really is Redford's last film, he definitely goes out on a high and the film does him justice. Can see that 'The Old Man and the Gun' has not worked for all and that is understandable, it is not hard to see why it hasn't connected with some and any criticisms regarding some of the storytelling and pace are in my opinion valid.
Did think that there are draggy stretches and parts where the storytelling borders on the repetitive side. The ending is rather anti-climactic.
Also felt that Casey Affleck's role was underwritten, it actually felt like it was intended to be a lead role but truncated, and Affleck is a little too laconic in it at times, though there are enough instances to show that it is actually still plays to his strengths as an actor.
However, 'The Old Man and the Gun' is very rewarding elsewhere. Redford piles on the likeability and charm with effortless ease, really terrific work in a performance that dominates in a good way the film, and some of his best in years. The pathos that Sissy Spacek brings to her role is truly moving and while Danny Glover and Tom Waits don't have large roles, somewhat unshowy, they do make strong impressions because their screen presences are pitched perfectly. The character wriitng helps make the characters mostly compelling and they feel like real people, that for Redford's character has remarkable depth and there is a constant sense that Lowery and everybody else had immense respect for Redford without being self-indulgent. Lowery similarly directs impeccably, doing wonders with a story that fits so well with his style. Much of 'The Old Man and the Gun' has a relaxed style but still has momentum to stop it from being aimless.
Visually, 'The Old Man and the Gun' is cleverly shot, with use of zooming and whip-pans, old-school style, that is stylish and affectionate rather than cheap. The scenery and production design are handsome and evocative without being too clean. The music is never too intrusive or too low-key, the jazzy nature nicely understated in parts in a very soothing sense while packing a punch in others. The script doesn't ramble or feel padded and has enough tautness and emotion. 'The Old Man and the Gun' boasts some thrilling action pieces enhanced by the photography, the robberies having the right amount of tension and brio, and the nods to past films, basically looking back on Redford's career and filmography, are affectionate rather than gimmicky. But it works even better in the calmer more introspective character moments. These moments are very charming and also very poignant.
Overall, a very good film with many excellent elements. 8/10 Bethany Cox