The Old Man and the Gun

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO - Weekly The Chase, War Hunt New Yorker En­ter­tain­ment F Troop),

If this in fact proves to be Robert Red­ford’s farewell to movies, what a lovely way to go. “Never say never,” the ac­tor said in a 2016

in­ter­view, “but I pretty well con­cluded that this would be it for me in terms of act­ing.”

This one does have the feel of a vale­dic­tory. Through­out we see pho­tos and even an old film clip (from 1966) of younger edi­tions of the golden boy who has been mak­ing movies since his 1962 big screen de­but in the San­ders broth­ers’ (which also in­tro­duced Syd­ney Pol­lack and Tom Sk­er­ritt — avail­able on YouTube).

Red­ford plays For­rest Tucker (no, not the guy from a man who has de­voted his long life to the art of rob­bing banks. His story, as an open­ing credit as­sures us, is mostly true (adapted by writer-direc­tor David Low­ery from David Grann’s ar­ti­cle). For­rest has spent plenty of time be­hind bars over the years, in­car­cer­ated 16 times with as many es­capes. We pick him up in 1981, a man in his seven­ties who has lost none of his love of the game. His MO is ex­em­plary. He walks into a bank, dis­creetly flashes a gun, asks po­litely for money, smiles, and leaves.

This re­view can­not pro­ceed fur­ther with­out bring­ing in Sissy Spacek. She shares the screen with Red­ford, and to­gether they ig­nite a chem­istry that could light the Rock­e­feller Cen­ter Christ­mas tree. Spacek plays Jewel, a wid­owed rancher, and when these two sit and ban­ter in a cof­fee shop booth, you could just watch and lis­ten to them all day.

But you can’t, be­cause there are banks to rob. For­rest some­times works alone, some­times with a cou­ple of geri­atric bud­dies, played by Danny Glover and Tom Waits, and the trio be­comes known in an en­thu­si­as­tic press as the Over-the-Hill Gang. In dogged pur­suit is an af­fa­ble, low-key cop with the ap­pro­pri­ate name of John Hunt (Casey Af­fleck), who comes to ad­mire the man he’s track­ing.

Wil­lie Sut­ton fa­mously re­marked that he robbed banks be­cause “that’s where the money is.” For For­rest Tucker, it seems to have been as much for the fun of it. It’s not just about mak­ing a liv­ing, he de­clares at one point. It’s about liv­ing!

So — is this it for the Sun­dance Kid? Maybe. Maybe not. By last month’s Toronto Film Fes­ti­val, where the movie pre­miered, Red­ford didn’t sound so sure. “I don’t know if it’s the last one,” he ad­mit­ted. The door is al­ways open, Bob, and we’ll leave a light on in the win­dow.

— Jonathan Richards

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