“Old Henry.” The West is a genre of films that have made an undeniable draw for decades for aspiring and self-sacrificing filmmakers. But it should also especially bring the elegy or tears of the past, which Westerners have done indelibly from John Ford’s “The Searchers” to the latest films such as Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven and Andrew Dominik’s “The Assassination of Jesse James by Coward Robert Ford.” There is a reason that when Peter Bogdanovich wanted to take the end of the season on “The Last Picture Show,” he used the last cow in the “Red River” – decades after their abundance, Westerners could still have this effect.
Old Henry: Movie Review
The tedious days of the past, the heroes alone, and the lives that could not be cut off at any moment, Westerners now have the spirit of grief to accompany their inevitable roaring gun. Director Potsy Ponciroli knows that too and uses it to do good in “Old Henry,” the elegiac indie Western debut at the Venice movie Festival on Tuesday.
The film plays as an indie genre in “Unforgiven,” although there is a third-person action thriller. A dark, sad, and powerful meditation on old age, guilt, hidden mysteries, and redemption – and like the great art of Eastwood, makes you the root of violence when you know you shouldn’t. And it makes full use of the rich myths of the Old West, criticizing the common myths for cunningly knowing what they can mean to us.
It includes the legendary Tim Blake Nelson, who played the singing but deadly cowboy who served as a title character in the amazing anthology of Coen’s brothers “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” recently. He has a title role in “Old Henry,” too, but in this case, (Old Henry) there is no crying or pulling the horse; Henry is tired and weary, a farmer who lives with his teenage son in the Oklahoma Territory in 1906 and looks no further than the day-to-day work of digging ditches and pigtails on his ruined, remote farm.
“It would be hard to tell who is who and what a man if he has the sense to tell you otherwise,” said Nelson in his voice at the beginning of the film, and it is clear that Henry himself may not be telling the truth when he insists on nothing but a farmer. His teenage son, Wyatt (Gavin Lewis) is disgusted by his father for not allowing him to shoot a gun and is determined to live a quiet life – but the potential (and potential danger) comes in the form of an unruly horse-riding Henry.
When three lawmakers (or are they there?) Looking for an injured man, Henry sends them and Wyatt is delighted with the suggestion of darkness in his father’s past. The film rarely goes across a small farm; it is a western room of some kind, stubborn and predictable and often as not set for the sad songs of the strings of songs from Jordan Lehning. Old Henry.
It’s not hard to figure out where this is going: There will be a show, people will die and Henry will show that he is much more than a farmer. But Ponciroli’s text takes its toll on revelations because Henry is in no hurry to share them with his son. (Old Henry) “I’ve done the things I wish I could bring back,” he said calmly, inexpensively with the power to open his weighty eyes. “Things you don’t have business news for.”
But in a surprising economic performance, Nelson talks more about that grizzled expression, a hangdog that rarely changes. Henry may not be able to bear the burden of what he once was, but he knows he can be that person again, and he knows he may have no other choice. The West is a weighty genre of black history, and Henry is a man in a similar position, admiring the degree to which Nelson made the transfer.
There is an amazing twist at the end and it is completely satisfying, which pushes “Old Henry” into maturity that can awaken at the same time, sadness, and righteousness. When the guns come out, as you know they will come out, Nelson sells them even though the placement of the great army is not always pleading.
“Henry the Elder” is a young West, very close, and moving peacefully even if it happens most in the house and not in the open. Sometimes you wish it could be more elaborate, but the truth of the matter is that you don’t really need more action than you can get in the eyes of Tim Blake Nelson. Old Henry.