Some films feel if they were made with a different era in mind.
They use the modern bells and whistles, cinematic tricks of the trade, to evoke a sense of nostalgia within the audience.
“The Old Man and The Gun,” reportedly Academy Award winner Robert Redford’s final film, goes much further than that.
The latest from director David Lowery is ripped straight from the archives of classic movie making of the 1970’s, figuratively speaking.
Everything from the candor of the screenplay to the charm of the performances to the vintage cinematography shot on Super 16 film to the leisurely pace harken back to a type of movie you don’t see on screen anymore.
Based largely on a true story, “The Old Man and The Gun” follows Forrest Tucker, a man in his 70s who robs banks for a love of adventure and breaks out of prison for the rush of it all.
His latest escapades with a pair of equally distinguished criminals puts Forrest in the path of a lovely, simple woman and in the crosshairs of the Dallas police.
The film offers the time and latitude for Redford to bring out his effortless charm in a most endearing way.
At times, it’s hard to tell if Lowery as screenwriter and director intends for audiences to see Forrest Tucker, career bank robber, or Robert Redford, iconic Oscar-winning actor.
An ode to Redford who just happens to star in it, “The Old Man and The Gun” often feels like a compilation of Redford’s greatest hits, occasionally lifting moments from his early career directly out of films like “The Chase” and “Two-Lane Blacktop.”
This reverence never becomes distracting or problematic, but comes out of distinct respect.
In this way, “The Old Man and The Gun” is a folktale rather than a biopic, blurring the lines between Tucker and Redford to the point where it doesn’t really matter which is speaking. You just want it to go on a little bit longer.
His presence radiates off the screen in easy flirtation with Sissy Spacek’s Jewel or juxtaposed against Casey Affleck’s road-weary detective John Hunt.
Redford soothes like bourbon in a smart, casual turn that perfectly wraps up his career in a neat bow, even if we don’t want him to be done.
Putting Affleck on Redford’s tail is a smart move for Lowery, giving Hunt the weight he needs to be an effective rival in the cat-and-mouse game of heist movies. What works best is the understated manner of Affleck’s performance, internalized to the point where it balances the scales of law and outlaw but also bows to the retiring star.
The ensemble cast each finds their moment to shine with Emmy-winner Elizabeth Moss and Danny Glover among the highlights. Yet it’s Tom Waits who steals the show in limited screen time as the most grizzled of the “Over The Hill Gang” and his monologue about why he hates Christmas is a standout moment of the entire film.
Lowery bathes his entire feature in nostalgia echoing in the faded, worn visuals as if audiences are peering into another world through a stained window. A traditional, flowing score is paired wonderfully with tracks from The Kinks and Jackson C. Frank to give the film an additional sense of place.
Like most of Lowery’s work, “The Old Man and The Gun” employees a casual pace that’s more like an old memory fading in and out of view.
Redford is so captivating and charming in his performance that audiences who engage early won’t feel the weight of a 90-minute cinematic stroll.
Aside from a possible outside chance a nomination for Redford as a tip of the cap, there likely won’t be any award season love for “The Old Man and The Gun.”
A simple film that does right by a legendary actor, “The Old Man and The Gun” may be out of step for modern Hollywood, but with Redford at the front, it’s a can’t miss treat.