The Reel Review

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Old Henry is a widowed farmer living with his teenage son in a remote stretch of the Oklahoma territory in 1906. After he reluctantly provides refuge for a wounded man with a satchel full of cash, a three-man posse claiming to be lawmen comes for the money. Henry must decide whom to trust, quickly revealing that there is a lot more to him than meets the eye, in this Western/thriller.

Tim Blake Nelson in Old Henry.

The simple story from writer/director Potsy Ponciroli is an efficient, taut thriller. Tim Blake Nelson gives a career best performance, transforming from farmer to lightning-quick sharpshooter with impressive subtlety. The supporting cast includes an excellent Gavin Lewis (Little Fires Everywhere) as his frustrated son wanting a better life, Scott Haze (Antlers, Child of God) as the wounded man, a convincing Stephen Dorff as the villain and country singer Trace Adkins as Henry’s brother-in-law and neighbor.

Stephen Dorff in Old Henry.

The big twist about Henry’s past is very obvious to those with a passing knowledge of Wild West history, and the wounded man’s flashbacks to when he’d encountered Henry years ago lack the finesse of the rest of the well-crafted film. But even so, Ponciroli has created a riveting, realistic tale of a protective father trying to make up for a checkered past that will delight fans of good old fashioned Westerns.

REEL FACTS

Old Henry is Tim Blake Nelson’s fifth western, after Holes, Homesman, the TV miniseries Klondike and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

• Although set in Oklahoma, Old Henry was filmed in Watertown, Tennessee, about 45 minutes northeast of Nashville.

• Nelson says five months of filming The Ballad of Buster Scruggs taught him how to do pistol tricks that he would use in Old Henry. 

 

 

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