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Thief of hearts

Robert Redford delivers a graceful performance in ‘The Old Man & the Gun’

Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek in “The Old Man & the Gun”


The stakes aren’t all that high in the new indie film, “The Old Man & The Gun,” but it’s a charmer all the same. The goal of writer/director David Lowery (“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” “A Ghost Story”) is simply to entertain with a delightful, American crime yarn about a septuagenarian bank robber portrayed by Robert Redford.

The film is based on the 2003 article of the same name by David Grann, author of “The Lost City of Z” and “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” which covers a series of killings that rocked Osage County, Oklahoma, in the early 1920s.

“The Old Man & The Gun” follows Forrest Tucker (Redford). At the age of 60, he’s mastered the art of the holdup and derives too much delight in the thrill of a good, well-mannered heist.

Sissy Spacek is immaculate as Jewel, a down-home Texas gal whose country twang and wry smile continues to steal any scene she’s in. But it’s Redford’s beguiling charm that makes “The Old Man & the Gun” such a thrill. There’s a pleasure in watching someone succeed at something they love—even if it’s robbing banks well into senior citizenship. Redford’s charisma gives the rakish Forrest such magnetism that you can’t help but root for him to succeed, even at the expense of a bank vault’s contents.

With “The Old Man & the Gun,” Lowery pays homage to the maverick spirit of the New Hollywood Cinema of the ‘70s without feeling slight or capricious. Lowery even manages to pull a page from the Soderbergh playbook, re-contextualizing images from Redford’s prior filmography to build the myth of this genteel bank robber.

The whimsical score by Daniel Hart keeps the atmosphere light and airy, pairing nicely with the grainy, laconic cinematography of Joe Anderson. But this is really an actors’ film. The well-rounded cast includes Danny Glover and Tom Waits as Forrest’s bank-robbing accomplices, and Casey Affleck plays the bored cop whose passion is reignited by Forrest’s recent spate of robberies.

David Lowery has settled comfortably into one of our most vital and interesting filmmakers. Not one to take the easy paycheck and helm a major comic-book franchise or CGI-laden blockbuster, he has instead built a diverse and quirky filmography that feels homespun and humanistic. With “The Old Man & the Gun,” he’s created yet another indelible yarn, with yet another iconic turn by Redford.

Redford has walked back his statement on retirement with “The Old Man & the Gun,” a film that would be a fitting swan song for the Sundance kid himself—going out on his own terms with that mercurial smile and a glint of mischief still in those iconic blue eyes.

“The Old Man & the Gun” opens Fri., Oct. 19 at Circle Cinema.

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