Film Review: The Old Man and the Gun

Like its leading man, David Lowery’s The Old Man and the Gun is oozing with charm. The film is wonderful. 

An older man walks into a bank and commits a robbery. An unlikely figure, but this isn’t his first crime. As the police, attempt to trace the robber, he stays one step ahead…

From the opening sequence, the tone of Lowery’s film is immediately set. Writer-director Lowery and cinematographer Joe Anderson make The Old Man And The Gun look like a film made in the early 1980s (when the film is set). The grainy quality is immediately reminiscent of this period. Coupled with the titles, the film is very much a throwback to this era. 

The structure of the picture is set up like a game of cat and mouse. And although this loose structure is followed, the film is anything but generic. Lowery develops complex characters, not just with the protagonist and his chaser detective Hunt, but also with Jewel. The relationships that develop during the course of the film are a joy to watch. 

The film does offer tension, but this isn’t the modus operandi of the picture. Instead, the director offers an insight into the lead character, who is based on a real person. Rather than proffering a moral judgement, Lowery is interested in what drives this fascinating character. In doing so, they also explore his counterpart; with Hunt’s conversations with his wife and children elucidating his transitioning feelings towards the object of his prey. 

In what is rumoured to be Robert Redford’s final movie, Lowery has created an ode to the leading man. In using the early picture, and footage, the film feels dedicated to the fine actor. It is also fitting that he plays a character that is incredibly charming. Sissy Spacek is also excellent as Jewel; her expressions convey so much about how the character feels without the need for words. Casey Affleck is as solid as ever, while Danny Glover and Tom Waits provide good support. Daniel Hart’s soundtrack is superb, setting the tone and feeling very much of the relevant era.  

The Old Man And The Gun is one of Lowery’s more accessible films, yet there is no diminishment of beauty. A beguiling picture. 

The Old Man And The Gun is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2018.

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