OLD HENRY – A Review by Cynthia Flores
I don’t care how far you have to drive to see this film due to its limited theatrical release. But, if you are a fan of westerns, then you can’t miss Old Henry on the big screen. It is a dark and quiet film. Set in the desolate landscape of the Oklahoma territory of 1906. Layered with exploits, twists, and turns that will leave you shouting at the screen. I won’t offer any spoilers in this review so you can enjoy the film in all its glory.
Old Henry is an action-Western about a widowed farmer named Henry (Tim Blake Nelson) and his teenage son Wyatt (Gavin Lewis). They live what Wyatt believes to be a boring hard life of farming. Get up early, work hard, and go to bed early. The only real company on the spread is Uncle Al (Trace Adkins), who is good friends with his brother-in-law Henry.
One day Henry warily takes in a mysterious, injured man named Curry (Scott Haze) with a satchel of cash. When a posse of men led by Ketchum (Stephen Dorff) claiming to be the law come for the money and the man, Henry must decide whom to trust. Defending against an attack on his homestead, Henry reveals a talent for gunslinging that surprises everyone, especially his son. Thus, calling his true identity into question.
The cinematography of John Matysiak is well suited to this film. Giving it a gritty, dark, and intimate feel. Even the incredible fight and shoot-out scenes feel based on reality. They have a “lived-in” visual style instead of just a mess of fast cuts, bullets, and blood. Add to the mix the tight musical score by Jordan Lehning, and you have movie magic. The pace and styling of Old Henry brought back memories of great westerns, such as 1992’s Unforgiven or 1952’s High Noon. This team of filmmakers has given us a finely crafted western. This is high praise for a film written and directed by a man better known for comedies like the 2012 film Super Zeros or the tv show Still the King.
When asked to describe his venture into the western genre, writer/director Potsy Ponciroli is quoted as saying:
“It’s a “micro western” (a term I stole from Tim Blake Nelson – the film’s producer and star) that pays homage to the great Westerns of the past. At its core, Old Henry is a story about a father and son. The struggles of a father trying his best to raise his son sheltered from the wrongs of his own past. Old Henry is also a story of redemption and forgiveness. It’s all of those things… and some badass gunfights.”
I give Old Henry a 5-star rating. It’s a brilliant film that I hope gets its due come awards season.
Directed by: Potsy Ponciroli
Written by: Potsy Ponciroli
Selig Rating: 5 Stars
Running Time: 1hr 39min
Western / Action
Limited Theatrical Release: October 1st The Grand Berry Theater,
Starring: Tim Blake Nelson, Scott Haze, Gavin Lewis, Trace Adkins, Stephen Dorff
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.