- Review by Kaya Savas - December 12, 2018
The Old Man & The Gun is a film from this year that mostly went unnoticed, which is a shame since this may be the best score and film of the year. Director David Lowery reunites with composer Daniel Hart and actor Robert Redford, and the film co-stars Sissy Spacek in a dramatic re-telling of the true story of Forrest Tucker. David Lowery and Daniel Hart are a textbook example of the benefits of a true director/composer collaborative relationship. Hart has scored 4 of Lowery’s features, the only time they didn’t work together was on Lowery’s very first feature prior to meeting. Lowery also directed Robert Redford in the 2016 live-action remake of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon, and of course Lowery and Casey Affleck have done two previous films together. So, we have a lot of collaborative history coming together for The Old Man & The Gun, and the result is a poetic and charming story about never being too old to do what you love. In this case, what our protagonist loves doing is robbing banks.
Hart took a jazz approach to the film, in what is a purely perfect stylistic choice for the characters and story. Tonally, this is a warm and light crowd-pleasing character study. If you had to capture the spirit of Forrest Tucker, it’s in the music Daniel wrote for this film. The film itself is a continuation of David Lowery’s fascination with American folk cinema. Daniel Hart somehow finds the core of Lowery’s vision with ease, and Lowery knows that he can let Daniel pretty much off the leash and do whatever he sees fit. There is real trust here, and it shows. Hart’s music holds hands with the picture and injects this tingly warmth deep into the emotional center of the story. While easy jazz rhythms underscore most of the film, there are more intricately built out pieces that map to the structure of scenes with more precision.
The music also feels as if it is carrying a lifetime behind it. The easy-going nature of the score is a complete reflection of our protagonist, and the life he has lived prior to the events of this movie. It’s an incredible example of music echoing the performance of the lead actor. Think of heavy eyes, old bones tired from a lifetime of walking, but a soul so full of life. And in a strange meta way, all of this feels like it’s commenting on Robert Redford’s life and career as well. The actor announced this will be his last film, and the film is all about going out with a bang by doing what you love and having no regrets. It’s the perfect role for Redford, and he couldn’t have had a better score as his swan song.
The Old Man & The Gun is such a brilliantly crafted and executed score, that it makes the film what it is. Lowery’s vision depends on Hart’s score, and Hart’s score depends on Lowery’s vision. It’s this mutually beneficial relationship where one feeds off the other to a final result that no one else could echo.
With a jazzy acoustic score and being shot on 16mm, The Old Man & The Gun feels of a different era. Yet the film is a perfect exploration of how all our stories come to an end, and we need to seize the joys of this world as much as we can. The story of Forrest Tucker is an interesting one, he was a career criminal who never physically harmed anyone and just focused on robbing banks. He escaped from prison 18 times and performed his last hurrah at age 79 (the focus of this film), robbing 4 banks before finally being caught. This film is uniquely profound while still being an easy-going crowd pleaser. You’ll have gained a new insight on life from seeing it, and a new layer of emotional depth from Daniel Hart’s perfect score.