The Old Man and the Gun

* * * 1/2

Every great artist deserves a career swan-song like The Old Man and the Gun, producer/star Robert Redford and writer/director David Lowery’s ode to heist movies, ageing in style, and Redford himself. Filled with thematic callbacks and visual references to Redford’s incredible career, most notably to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the film, like the man, is classy, intelligent, witty, handsome and delightfully old-fashioned.

Based on a New Yorker article about a real bank robber and his small “gang”, the material is ideal for its purpose, which is to send Redford off (he’s announced his retirement from acting with this role). If it had been about a cop, or an architect, or a grumpy geezer pissed off with all the rotten youths in his neighbourhood, it would not have served Redford nearly so well. By allowing him once more to rob banks, we get him at his most iconoclastic, incorporating his sly anti-authoritarianism, his cocky charm, and his devastating attractiveness. Forrest Tucker (the real bank robber Redford portrays) famously smiled as he stole, and was always a perfect gentleman. He was also, quite obviously, compulsive in his need to steal, which makes him a far more intriguing and complicated character than he first appears.

Other than Casey Affleck as the cop on his tail, Redford gets to share the screen with (near) contemporaries, including Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover and Tom Waits. All give thoroughly charming performances. This is a calm, warm, delightful film, and rather stunning to look at. Set mainly in the early 80s, the period design is impeccable, and the film grain – Lowery shot on Super 16mm – is sumptuous. Redford should be pleased, and proud. A very cozy treat.

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