I worked in a call centre for several years. So when, in the very first scene of this movie there’s this archly framed shot of Lakeith Stanfield’s hero in front of a noticeboard on which the contextless word ‘You’ is prominently displayed — I felt that. As he begs for a job with his fraudulent credentials across from the desk of some pasty old dude who is over-friendly and a little lascivious you’re firmly established in the realm of a workplace comedy. There’s echoes early on of Mike Judge’s Office Space, though we can tell that Boots Riley approaches the environment with a more easily apparent political bent.
The Old Man and the Gun is shot on a very creamy stock of 16mm film. It makes everything in this film look soft. When Robert Redford ambles into the frame with a crooked smile and a gimlet eye, the air around him crackles. He is a very kindly man who also so happens to be a bank robber. I’ve no doubt that this work is a tremendous example of historical revisionism — there ain’t a single person alive who exhibits the genuine unfiltered kindness that the people here do. Even the weary, downtrodden, cop tired of his job and the cruelty he sees in the world — working to take the criminals down — exhibits it earnestly.