“Old Henry,” starring great actor Tim Blake Nelson, is a tribute to classic Western films by writer and director Potsy Ponciroli.
Fans of these films will recognize right away what is likely to happen, but the story is strong enough and well enough told that it’s fun to walk down this familiar path.
It’s the story of a widowed farmer, Henry, trying to protect his teenage son, Wyatt, from the outside world for as long as he can. While he doesn’t say what, it’s clear that Henry is experiencing the worst life one can offer and he’s trying to protect Wyatt from it.
Henry seems overprotective at times, and Wyatt is eager to be able to get as far away from his father and the farm as possible.
You can see why Wyatt (Gavin Lewis) is anxious to leave in an early scene that establishes how hard they have to work to make their way to the farm. Although the film has an air of the Wild West, it is set in 1906 and the world is changing.
“There are tractors now that could do this in a quarter of the time,” an exasperated Wyatt tells his father as they hand dig a trench in rocky ground.
The problem comes to roam the farm
The boy is eager for any sort of adventure – his father won’t even let him go hunting with an uncle, played by country music star Trace Adkins – and he tells whoever wants to hear he has want to explore the world.
This adventure presents itself on the farm when a riderless horse with a bloody saddle wanders the property. Henry sets out to find the horseman and he begins to become clear in his assessment of the situation when he finds the injured man, a gun and a satchel full of money that he is more than just a simple man. farmer.
Against his first impulse, Henry brings the injured man and the money home. Soon after, three men claiming to be the law show up to ask about the stranger in the house.
Unsurprisingly, Henry doesn’t trust the gang on his door any more than the stranger inside.
Henry’s past begins to be revealed as he tries to find out who he can believe among the dangerous men around him. As the story unfolds, it turns out that Henry could be the most dangerous of all.
Tim Blake Nelson is exceptional
Nelson, best known for roles such as Delmar O’Donnell in the Coen Brothers’ “O Brother Where Art Thou” and the detective known as Looking Glass in the HBO “Watchmen” series, is outstanding as Henry .
Its stiff little frame seems made to represent a man hardened by years of hard work in a ruthless place. But when the time comes for him to take a stand, he also seems tall enough for the role.
“Old Henry” has been compared to Western classics such as Clint Eastwood’s 1992 film “Unforgiven”. That’s probably too high a praise, because it doesn’t really break new ground. While this might not be the most original story, it is well done and Nelson’s portrayal of a farmer turned reluctant shooter is worth the price of a ticket.
‘Vieux Henri’, 4 stars
Super ★★★★★ Good
Correct ★★★ Bad ★★ Bomb ★
Director: Potsy Ponciroli.
To throw: Tim Blake Nelson, Scott Haze, Gavin Lewis.
Unclassified: Contains violence.
To note: In theaters October 1.
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