Film Review: Old Henry

Henry's past catches up with him

While the dangers of the ‘Wild West’ frontier have been conjured up so many times by numerous filmmakers, it is perhaps the more introspective narratives which have the most resonance. Movies which, instead of telling a story about someone in their prime, focus on more contemplative and reflective characters during their autumn years. The likes of Unforgiven, for example, provides a much more rounded vision of life during the period. Old Henry tells the tale of a man trying to outrun his past.

Henry McCarty (Tim Blake Nelson) is a farmer struggling to eke out a living from the harsh land. The widower lives in the middle of nowhere with his teenage son Wyatt (Gavin Lewis). The young man knows his taciturn father has an interesting past but the old man won’t talk about it. Their difficult, yet uneventful, life is turned upside down when an injured man, Curry (Scott Haze), arrives at their door. A sheriff (Stephen Dorff) and his deputies soon follow, but there’s something suspicious going on.

Old Henry is probably the best Western you’ll see this year. Writer/Director Potsy Ponciroli uses a number of familiar themes but does so in a way which heightens both the dramatic elements and moments of tension. It works so well thanks to a masterly central performance from Tim Blake Nelson and a script which keeps the plot shrouded in mystery. Old Henry is a gunslinging thriller which allows it’s ‘hero’ to do the talking.  

Old Henry is now available to watch on Sky Cinema/Now TV.

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