I wish more movies were made like this. The Old Man & the Gun is a simple story, told by a cast of superstar actors in the most understated yet intensely dramatic way.
The cast alone is a joy to behold as they light up the screen. Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover, Tom Waits and Robert Redford in what is supposedly his last screen appearance — we shall see. I actually worked on a movie with Danny Glover once called Supremacy. It was pretty cool being on set with him. He is a sweet dude. I can only imagine it was a kind of enchanted set with these greats just riffing away on some solid writing.
There is a certain theme in TOM&TG which is, “Why are some people compelled to destructive behavior even in the face of their own eternal happiness?” Perhaps because your idea of eternal happiness is not theirs, even though they would like it to be…life would be much simpler and enjoyable for them that way.
In the canon of heist films TOM&TG doesn’t tout the madness of Dog Day Afternoon, no chants of “At-ti-ca! / At-ti-ca!” here. Or the violence and naturalism of Hell or High Water. The crime itself isn’t the main point. It’s a fait accompli. Some of my favorite moments were things like the Tom Waits monologue about Christmas or Redford and Spacek’s first time sitting down for coffee, just shooting the breeze while we know he’s on the lam— and her calling him on his crap. It’s genuinely smart and amusing and real in its own right. It’s not Acting but acting and its great.
It’s interesting that as a period piece, TOM&TG is also filmed in the style of the period. In other words, it tells a story from the early 1980s with the same style or look films had in that general era. You almost feel like you are in a Three Days of the Condor fever dream. To that end, the film also comes through with some seriously laudable art direction.
So do yourself a favor and catch this one at some point when you want to watch a good film.