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MOVIES: (LFF 2018) The Old Man and the Gun - Review

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David Lowery has been quietly establishing himself as one of the most reliable directors at the moment. Both A Ghost Story and his Pete’s Dragon remake have been excellent and he follows up with another winner in the form of The Old Man and the Gun, which is a contender for one of the best films of the year and feels like a perfect showcase for the talents of Robert Redford, who excels in the lead role.

Based loosely off a true story, borrowing the same title of a newspaper headline that covered the events when the film took place, The Old Man and the Gun is witty, funny and clever. The acting talent is fantastic – Redford excels, and Sissy Spacek more than holds her own, but that's no surprise to any Castle Rock fans. The film brings the story of a stylish, suave pensioner bank-robber to life in fantastic detail, with Redford alone having more charm and charisma than any other cast out there at the moment. It’s just a pleasant enjoyable experience, playing out like a fantastic game of cat and mouse from start to finish.

Lowery knows how to do impactful scenes often without showing much and the quieter moments are often the most powerful. The heartfelt feel of this film means that it works as a nice, easy-going watch that’s not too depressing, and it will find a way to make you laugh while watching it. The humour hits home, and you really get into the mindset of the characters and their drive.

The back and forth game of cat and mouse over the film plays out really well. It’s entertaining to watch unfold and you never quite know how it’s going to end up, especially if you’re not aware like myself when I was first watching it of the true story that this film is based on. It’s in its element when it brings the cop out to catch him – Casey Affleck’s muted John Hunt, and Redford’s character Forrest Tucker into close proximity with one another, as these scenes are often the tensest of the entire movie.

What's perhaps more of an accomplishment is how dialogue is hardly needed to convey what's going on in the film at all. Most scenes don't need it, and it works wonders because of this. Whilst it would have been easy to include plenty of exposition, the film wisely stays clear from that approach.

The Old Man and the Gun is a straightforward crowd-pleaser of a film that keeps audiences entertained from start to finish. It's hard not to like it and it also contains an excellent soundtrack to boot. The soundtrack opts for the lesser known songs as opposed to the more usual choices, featuring an near-perfect use of Jackson C. Frank's Blues Run The Game that plays at an iconic moment in the film itself. Perhaps the biggest takeway from this film is that it is going to work really well as a a lazy Saturday afternoon viewing when it comes out on DVD/digital platforms. It's easy to follow and doesn't require too much overthinking on the surface, but the more you pay attention the more you notice the subtle nuances that the film brings to the table. It's also important not to ignore the fact that in a genre where the stakes are often raised to astronomically high levels, it's refreshing to find a film that's as down-to-earth and enjoyable as this one is.

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