The Old Man & The Gun

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

The Old Man & The Gun

The Old Man & The Gun is quiet, slow, and questionable. The main reason to go is to salute Robert Redford by seeing his final film. Now, however, Mr. Redford has announced in a recent interview that he had such fun making this one that he may well change his mind about retiring. Whether you decide to go should depend on how you feel about this movie actor who has given us great pleasure over the decades. Without him, this movie wouldn’t last long.

We are presented with Forrest Tucker (yes, Robert Redford), a man possessed by a dream. He has found his life’s pleasure, excitement, and challenge in robbing banks. Now and then he serves a jail term when caught but that doesn’t dim the fun of planning his heists.

He has created his holdups artistically. With the good looks of a fit older man dressed in a business suit, he enters a bank, quietly reveals the unloaded pistol in his jacket and asks politely for the money in the teller’s drawer. What Redford does so well is to convey not just the calm of the thief but his quiet, deep pleasure in the theft. This is one man who loves his work. When he leaves the bank with a box full of cash, he wears a very gentle smile. He did it again.

The movie’s many subtleties may well be pleasure for the elders among us, but will young people love it? No one will ever hear Robert Redford raise his voice. When he sees Jewel (a very fine Sissy Spacek) trying to fix her broken car by the roadside, he pulls over to create with her a lovely first meeting that you may have to be older to appreciate. The acceptance by each of the other’s eccentricities makes young courtship look foolish. The few lovely scenes where they share their affection are beautifully done.

We have met a man whose pleasure comes from escaping and outwitting police and prisons. He’s done just that many times, and as we watch him when he’s quiet, we know he’s planning his next heist. This is the perfect part for Robert Redford. The bank robber hasn’t a false or fake note in him; he just loves what he does. But it’s repetitious and slow. If you can handle that, both Redford and Spacek win us over with warm performances. Those of us old enough to remember their old days will probably like it more than those who are very young.

Seeing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with my whole family years ago is an enduring memory for me. All ages of us loved it. In The Old Man & The Gun we love Redford for not trying make himself look younger than he is. If you’re feeling sentimental, you may appreciate the gentle old bank robber who loves his work. If not, you might find the movie interminably slow.

Film Critic : Joan Ellis
Film Title : The Old Man & The Gun
Word Count : 497
Running Time : 1:33
Rating : PG-13
Date : 21 October 2018

 

Colette

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

Colette

The fun of Colette is irreverence. The independence of women was not a value as the 20 th century began. They lived within the parameters assigned to them – being wives, mothers, and support systems for their men in a world of total artifice for women. What outlets existed for women with creative ideas begging to get out of their heads? George Sand solved it by using an alias. Others dealt by publishing under their husbands’ names.

In the 1890s, Colette (Keira Knightly) is married to Willie (Dominic West), a con man by instinct who is delighted with the collaboration he and his wife invent. She writes; he publishes her lighthearted work under his name. “The hand that holds the pen writes history” she says to her husband. She sees the truth and she is honest but in the long run, she will not be content to be a victim of a tough historical time for women. She becomes Colette, renowned French writer who gradually embraces the off-beat social scene of Paris.

The books she writes are stories that fit perfectly in the existing world of total artifice. Light to the core, they are picked up by a world living in that prevailing culture, and Willie’s stream of stories – all by his wife – become celebrated. Why does he feel no guilt at taking credit for all her work? He’s perfect for the role – an uninhibited player in a culture that celebrates artifice. Writer/director Wash Westmoreland paints the whole thing with an appropriately light hand and never succumbs to the temptation to make everything come out right.

Of Colette’s husband Willie, her mother tells her daughter “he’s a drunken, broken man,” and suggests she handle her writing and her life as she wants it to be. That includes an unappealing gay affair with an American and then a dandy one with Missy (Denise Gough) that is everlasting. Of her now nationally celebrated fictional character Claudine, the evolved Colette says “I’ve outgrown her.” She turns with great success to the music hall and the theater – moving now on her own talent without having to channel it through Willie.

Keira Knightly does a fabulous job of creating Colette. From the lightweight writer whose Claudine has captured the French public, she evolves into resentment at her husband for taking the credit. The smart gal who has tired of creating Claudine switches to music hall and theater work while living with the woman she loves.

That’s quite a series of life and mood changes and Knightly makes the whole trip credible and full of fun. She conveys Colette’s free spirit with abandon. Yes, she goes through a whole array of emotions but she isn’t trying to teach the audience any lessons and neither is writer/director Westmoreland. When we realize there will be no moralizing, we are free to float with the zany script that delivers Keira Knightly’s terrific bundle of talents. This is a fun one.

Film Reviewer: Joan Ellis
Film Title : Colette
Word Count : 495
Running Time : 1:51
Rating : R
Date : October 14, 2018