(The 2018 Toronto International Film Festival runs September 6-16 in, you guessed it, Toronto, Canada. Hammer to Nail has boots on the ground in the form of lead critic Chris Reed and Matt Delman. They’re excited to bring you some amazing reviews so stay tuned!)
David Lowery’s new heist pic has a ton of old school flair. And who better to personify old school flair than Robert Redford, in what’s rumored to be the last role of his career. Though if Redford shares his character’s penchant for fibs and unwillingness to quit while head, you never know. Forrest Tucker is a dapper gentleman who robs banks with a soft voice and a smile. The one characteristic all of his ‘victims’ — though that word seems hyperbolic in this instance— first cite when questioned by the detective on his tail (Casey Affleck) is Forrest’s politeness. Such stylish nonchalance has been key to Redford’s cinematic longevity. Audiences will undoubtedly be rooting for him to achieve his one last score.
The film’s heart lies with Jewel (Sissy Spacek), who takes a liking to Forrest after he gives her a ride when her truck breaks down. She mistakes the police monitor in his ear for a hearing aid. Forrest opts not to hide his chosen occupation from her, half-knowing she won’t believe him. Jewel can’t resist Forrest’s charm, perhaps unaccepting the truth about him, or perhaps more mischievously, wanting to be along for the ride. The schematics of the robberies are unimportant to Lowery, who instead focuses his script (which is based on a true story) on the relationships between his characters. Danny Glover and Tom Waits round out his venerable crew. They may not be Danny Ocean’s first, or fourteenth choice, but they have experience and unwavering loyalty. Though as Glover’s character points out, they are aware of what they are and aren’t capable of. Forrest not so much; he goes a little too far and is frequently busted, depicted though Lowery’s hilarious montage showing him escaping from every prison that’s dared to hold him.
From the title cards to the music, there’s an old fashioned aesthetic that grounds the film in a genre and time period. Technically speaking, there’s nothing groundbreaking, not that anyone was expecting Lowery to push boundaries here the way he did with 2017’s A Ghost Story. The director is on cruise control, but what a fun cruise it is! It’s safe to say any film with a Robert Longstreet cameo is bound to be a hoot.
Describing a film as ‘nice’ always feels a bit like an insult. But gosh darn if this just ain’t the nicest film, with one of the nicest bank robbers you’ve ever met. There’s a humanism to the way Lowery approaches each character, that sometimes gets lost in the swagger of say, DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can or Clooney in the Ocean’s movies. Redford as Forrest ends his legendary acting career with plenty of warmth to spare. With The Old Man & The Gun, Lowery has sent Redford sailing into the horizon on a high note.
– Matthew Delman (@ItsTheRealDel)