“HE was also sort of a gentleman.” That’s how the victims of notorious septuagenarian bank robber Forrest Tucker describe him after relieving their registers of money. By the end the film he has long since made you feel the same way.

In what is purportedly his final role before retiring, Robert Redford stars as a fictionalized version of the real-life Texas bank robber who continued his brazen thefts well into his 70s; he would calmly walk up to the teller, show them his gun and politely ask for them to give him the money, all with a smile and a kind comment.

Finally picking up the scent is John Hunt (Casey Affleck), a canny detective who seems caught between desperately wanting to catch this man who’s stolen so much and secretly admiring someone who managed to escape prison an astonishing 16 times just so he could carry on robbing.

In a way the detective is a conduit for the audience, watching on with admiration and revelling in the thrill of the chase as much as we’re itching to see what happens when he catches up with him.

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Director David Lowery has a crop of diverse films to his credit, including crime/family drama Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (also starring Affleck), live-action fantasy remake Pete’s Dragon (also featuring Redford) and stunning meditation on the nature of life, the universe and everything with A Ghost Story. No two films are the same, yet they’re thematically and tonally bound strongly together.

The Old Man & The Gun is a fine exemplar of Lowery’s cinematic intentions of being unassuming, almost laid back, yet finding a way to be hugely affecting. It’s a film clothed in a cool ‘70s throwback vibe, astutely distilling flavours of classic bank robbery movies – from the planning and execution to the prototypical cat-and-mouse game between cop and robber – that have aged like fine wine here.

It’s a fond farewell for Redford, perfect for a role that calls for the seamless blend between dazzling movie star and nuanced thespian. He oozes natural charisma, yet gives a believable and quietly heart-breaking performance of a man finding peace in his twilight years, yearning and reflective in a way that produces pangs of both sadness and contentment.

Some of its best moments are simply him and Sissy Spacek – giving a moving performance as a kindred spirit offering normalcy – discussing the big and small things in life.

“I’m not talking about making a living,” explains Tucker. “I’m just talking about living.” Rarely has a film about stealing been so nice. In its own unassuming way, it’s an affecting and strangely comforting experience.