The Old Man and The Gun
Robert Redford has announced that this will be last performance as an actor, capping a 58 year career loaded with a host of highly popular movies including Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, All The President’s Men & The Sting. Given the broad range of his credits, his self-chosen swan song is a surprisingly gentle, shaggy-dog biography about a soft-spoken criminal named Forrest Tucker who meandered in and out of prisons for most of his life because he just liked to rob banks.
Fresh out of prison, Tucker meets a charming widow named Jewel (Sissy Spacek) who’s drawn to Tucker’s diffident manner and the pleasant habit he has of not speaking too much about himself. He courts her a bit, then leaves town to pull a string of heists with two confederates, played to perfection by Danny Glover (of Lethal Weapon fame) and the nearly unrecognizable Tom Waits, peripatetic singer-song writer whose raspy voice has graced the soundtracks of an astounding 189 films. They abandon their partnership on the occasion of getting arrested for a particularly successful job, but Tucker is soon on the loose again, winning Jewel’s heart by stealing a bracelet for her (which she insists he return) and quietly leaving her life after he’s caught after robbing 4 banks at gunpoint on the same day.
Spacek’s career has ranged from low-rent horror films (Carrie) to her Oscar-winning performance in Coal Miner’s Daughter. As she enters her 7th decade, she exudes an effortless down-home femininity that matches Redford’s courtly felon at every turn. And in this oddly cheerful biography of a rootless ex-con, the actor has chosen to end his astoundingly successful screen career with a welcome touch of self-effacing nostalgia that deftly undercuts his image as a leading man.
Director David Lowery adapted his screenplay from a New Yorker article tracing the arc and descent of a loner who spent his entire adult life committing armed robberies and the director neither glamorizes this bush-league felon, nor burdens the viewer with a story that carries even the suggestion of moral condemnation.
The Old Man and The Gun has its cinematic tongue firmly in its cheek which makes its appeal hard to describe. But the impact of its brisk 90+ minute running time is a bit like sitting out in your back yard on a sunny afternoon with a tall glass of lemonade listening to crickets chirp in the grass as a soft breeze whistles through the trees. Nothing special to remark about really-- expect perhaps the pleasant ambiance of the experience.
The Verdict? An offbeat tale that provides a tantalizing denouement to the wildly successful carrier of its aging star.
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