David Lowery is back with another truly fine movie, just a really excellent throwback. After the metaphysical Ghost Story, Lowery returns to stories a bit more earthbound with this tale of a charming bank-robber. Robert Redford has said that this his final film and after a career of fifty-eight years and forty-eight films, it’s hard to begrudge him the chance to rest, but we all know what retirements are worth with creative types. Still, at a weathered eighty-two years old, Redford still has the easy, natural charisma that made him a star in the first place and he’s pitch perfect as the aged career criminal who just can’t seem to slow down. Casey Affleck is brilliant, as always, as the world-weary cop that’s on his track. The film splits the time between the two more equally than I expected; it’s very much about both of their personal stories, just as much as it is about the places where they intersect. Sissy Spacek is a joy in her supporting role. The ensemble is really strong. Danny Glover and Tom Waits show up as a couple of Redford’s compatriots and while Glover especially is criminally underused, they’re still a lot of fun. The always wonderful Gene Jones shows up in a brief role. And maybe best of the entire supporting cast is Elisabeth Moss; she only has one scene, but she brings a bitterness and darkness that really leavens the film’s romanticism. Lowery has a good mastery of tone. We have to kind of fall in love with Redford’s Forrest Tucker and find his irrepressible criminality charming if the movie’s going to work, but Lowery shows the dark side of his character too in a section of the film where he actually tries to settle down, but finds himself drawn back in by his urges. It’s decidedly a kind of caper film, and it’s a lot of fun, but some heavy dramatic moments work as well. The film is, as usual for Lowery, visually quite striking, evoking a grainy, amber-toned seventies style, evoking, in point of fact, the look of films that Redford was in back in his heyday. One could quibble with some of the references to Redford’s filmography that Lowery sprinkles through the film. Some of them, like a particularly clunky reference to The Sting, are kind of silly, but I suppose it’s harmless in the long run. This film isn’t setting out to change the world or even make a huge artistic statement of some kind, but it’s almost flawlessly executed entertainment and you’ll walk out with a huge smile on your face. It stands up, is what I mean, with the films that it’s referencing. 4 stars.
tl;dr – wonderful performances, especially from a charismatic Redford, elevate this visually striking and compelling film; a lot of fun, but the drama works too. 4 stars.