As a native Texan, I want to make a case for supporting movies made by Texas filmmakers. This is an easy endorsement when a truly gifted filmmaker like David Lowery rises through the ranks, pursues the right projects, and perfects his skills to make it to the big time. He’s there now.
Lowery’s most recent film “The Old Man & the Gun” demonstrates his mature talent and genius as a writer and director. He not only brings some of the same actors who were in last year’s beautifully ethereal film “A Ghost Story,” but he also tells a Texas story “mostly true” that’s set in a variety places you’ll recognize - places like Fort Worth and Waco.
“The Old Man & the Gun” features an all-star cast with Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, and Casey Affleck. At age 83, Redford has exactly what it takes to step into the skin of bank robber Forest Tucker. He plays him as a cantankerous soul who won’t let a little thing like tired bones or arthritic joints stop him from his passion: robbing banks. Take the tag line of the film to heart: “It’s not about making a livin’. It’s about livin’.
Tucker’s really, really good at robbing banks because he’s charming. He’s nice to the tellers, mostly women, when he hands them the note. With a twinkle in his eye, he always remembers to say “please” and “thank you.” They’re momentarily held in his spell while they reach into the drawer and pull out the cash.
When he happens to meet Jewel (Sissy Spacek) in a coffee shop, he turns on the same charm. She’s immediately smitten by his witty repartee, but it takes her a little longer to allow him into her completely settled life. She lives simply on a ranch with her dogs and horses. Having been widowed a long time, she’s not sure she needs a man in her life, but this one is especially beguiling. She just can’t figure out what he does for a living.
In the meantime, Tucker wastes no time traveling through one small Texas town after another robbing banks. Finally, his antics attract the attention of detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck). Hunt becomes obsessed with Tucker and goes to elaborate means to try to solve the case. He can’t understand how one very brazen old man can wreak such havoc.
The beauty of Lowery’s work as a director comes through in multiple scenes, many of which rely heavily on sweeping Texas landscapes. Lowery recorded a short voice-over on the trailer that appears on IMDB.com. Take the time to see it because it explains details about the locations and some of his artistic decisions.
This film creates a loving tribute to the long and illustrious career of Robert Redford. Don’t miss it.
Rated PG 13 for brief strong language.
Marilyn Robitaille writes film reviews for the Stephenville Empire-Tribune and the Glen Rose Reporter.