Telluride: Robert Redford Turns on the Charm in 'The Old Man & the Gun'

The Old Man & the Gun Still 1 - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

The 45th Telluride Film Festival kicked off Friday afternoon at the 650-seat Herzog Theater with the world premiere of David Lowery's dramedy The Old Man & the Gun, which stars Robert Redford in what the screen legend has said will be his final screen performance. The film’s distributor, Fox Searchlight, would like to send him into retirement with some more recognition from the Academy — he’s previously received an honorary Oscar, won a best director Oscar for Ordinary People and received additional nominations for best picture, director and acting. But it remains to be seen how well a low-key performance in an understated film can fare in this very competitive day and age.

Old Man, which Redford also produced, and which reunites him with his Pete’s Dragon (2012) director, was warmly received at its 'Patron's Preview' screening. That prestigious slot previously helped to catapult films like The Descendants (2011), Argo (2012), Wild (2014) and La La Land (2016) into Oscar contention, but it has also showcased films that more or less failed to launch, such as Labor Day (2013) and He Named Me Malala (2015).

Based on the true story of a senior citizen "gentleman" bank robber being hunted by a small-town cop — it was adapted from David Grann's 2003 New Yorker article about Forrest Tucker — the film proves an apt showcase for Redford’s famous charm, especially in his scenes with fellow Oscar winner Sissy Spacek, who makes the most of limited screen time and could be on some long-lists for best supporting actress. Casey Affleck, a Lowery regular (they won raves for 2017’s A Ghost Story) and another Oscar winner, plays the cop.

At a post-screening Q&A, Redford, 82, was asked about his recent remarks regarding retirement, and teased, “I think I also said, ‘Never say never,’ to applause. He added, however, “I couldn’t think of a better project to go out on than this film.”

The Old Man & the Gun will be released in theaters Sept. 28.