The Old Man & The Gun

Written and directed by David Lowery, from the eponymous novel by David Grann. Starring Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Sissy Spacek. Length 93 minutes.

Seventy year-old Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford) scores bank robbery after bank robbery, charming his victims with an unforgettable smile.

The story told in this movie is almost completely true, as the opening line ironically states. Forrest, played by an impressive Robert Redford in his farewell to cinema, is a bank robber from the eighties, who started his activity when he was merely 13. He scored hundreds of hits and escape after escape, the last one when he was 70, fleeing the prison of St. Quentin on a makeshift raft.

The leader of the “Over The Hill Gang” (as Forrest and his accomplices are endearingly dubbed by the media) possesses a feature that surprises and almost seduces his victims: an ever-present smile. His serenity and good-heartedness are infectious, so much so that the ones that get robbed are more keen to sing his praises than worry about the trauma they have endured.

What distinguishes the protagonist of the film is an incredible desire to live: he always carries a gun with him, but he has never had to fire it, he is not interested in violence. Being a serial criminal is like an addiction to the adrenaline produced by the sole fact of successfully getting away with a hit, and it’s this passion that Forrest is not able to give up.

But the robbery obsession is mixed with a much deeper reflection on the desire to not let life go to waste, of not surrendering to the passage of time, which would sooner or later force him to put away his gun for good.

Forrest's problem is not to “make a living”, but “living”, and the years that quickly pass by are an opportunity to try new experiences, and to fully enjoy what is around. So the fortuitous encounter with Jewel, a deep and fascinating woman, is an opportunity to reflect once and for all on the meaning of time and what he has really been during his existence. An opportunity to pause, at least for an instant, and savor the pleasure of stability.

“I'm exactly where I should be,” says the protagonist, because his inner child is proud of what he has become. But the story emphasizes that within an incredible and enviable existence, there are evidently some shadows. Forrest's smile is also marked by the drama of a past that perhaps he has never wanted to look in the face, so caught up is he in a fervour for life that, even in old age, threatens to steal him away from any affection.

The foil to this master of robbery is a much younger man, a policeman (Casey Affleck) trying to make a career leap, whom Forrest engages in a literal game of cops and robbers. A very deep relationship is gradually established between the two, one of esteem and almost affection. The two of them live very different situations, but they share a passion for their job and the desire not to waste their lives.

Forrest is a true hero, made of light and darkness, like all human beings in the course of their existence.

The character is perfect for this profound film, that can sometimes be a little slow but has moments of pure irony; which offers many opportunities for reflection and, above all, immortalises through a multitude of lines the timeless figure of Robert Redford in a great and unforgettable performance.

Ilaria Giudici has worked as a screenwriter and story editor in Italy for Lux vide and Rai Gulp. She is a contributor to the yearly collection of cinema reviews Scegliere un film.