The great actor Tim Blake Nelson (“Watchmen (TV)”, “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”) has done a lot of Western’s in his time, it seems it’s easy for him to have that sort of look about him.
Here, he produces and takes the lead in Old Henry, a throwback Western from writer/director Potsy Ponciroli (“Still the King (TV)”, “Super Zeroes”), starring alongside Scott Haze (“Venom”, “The Vault”), Gavin Lewis (“Little Fires Everywhere (TV)”, “Prince of Peoria (TV)”) and Stephen Dorff (“True Detective (TV)”, “Leatherface”).
Henry is an old, grizzly farmer, toiling the land at the base of a hill, living with his rather grumpy, teenage son Wyatt (Lewis), who seems to hate his father, believing he’s done and achieved nothing in his life.
All this is thrown in the air when a horse arrives, minus its rider. Henry sets out and finds Curry (Haze), shot up, face down in a ditch. A gun and a satchel stuffed full of cash are nearby.
Initially turning and riding away, not wanting to get involved, Henry turns, grabs everything, including Curry, and heads back to the farm. He begins trying to heal his wounds whilst remaining suspicious, tying Curry to the bed.
His suspicions rise when Ketchum (Dorff) arrives, a sheriff’s badge proud on his chest, with two ‘deputies’. Ketchum informs Henry that Curry is dangerous, wanted in several counties, and he doesn’t believe Henry who tells him he’s not seen the man they’re looking for.
What follows is a classic Western stand-off as Ketchum, who believes there’s more to Henry then meets the eye, brings more men to get Curry back and, if Henry and Wyatt are in the way, well that’s just tough.
But he’s right, there’s more to Henry than meets the eye, much more, equally, maybe know-one is who they really say they are. Who can be trusted? Who will win-out in the end?
Old Henry is a great film. A classic, slow-burn Western that takes time to build, teasing things out of its protagonists before hitting you with, what I have to say, is a great twist.
Sure, it’s not without its cliches either; Wyatt as the son who believes his father amounts to nothing before learning the truth and Ketchum as the man who won’t die despite being shot multiple times.
These let the story down a touch, but don’t let it put you off. Old Henry is a great watch, well worth watching, it’s certainly one of the best Westerns we’ve seen in some time, helped in no small way by great performances from all involved.
Seek it out, settle down and enjoy the performances, the sounds of the gunfire and those accents. Good Old Henry.
Old Henry is coming to Sky and streaming service NOW in 2022.
8th November 2021
THE QUICK SELL
An action western about a farmer who takes in an injured man with a satchel of cash. When a posse comes for the money, he must decide who to trust.