‘Old Henry’ aims to create a new Western classic

“Old Henry,” starring the great character actor Tim Blake Nelson, is an homage to classic Western movies from writer and director Potsy Ponciroli. Note: Old 2021 Streaming

Fans of those films will recognize right away what’s likely to happen, but the story is strong enough, and told well enough, that it’s fun to go down that familiar road.

It’s the story of a widowed farmer, Henry, trying to protect his teenage son, Wyatt, from the outside world for as long as he can. Though he won’t say what, it’s clear that Henry has experience with the worst life can offer and he’s trying to keep Wyatt safe from that. Note: The Kissing Booth 3 2021 Streaming

Henry seems overprotective at times and Wyatt is eager for a chance to get as far away from his father and the farm as he can.

You can see why Wyatt (Gavin Lewis) is eager to leave in an early scene that establishes how hard they have to work to scratch out an existence on the farm. Though the film has an Old West feel, it’s set in 1906 and the world is changing. Note: Candyman 2021 Streaming

“There are tractors now that could do this in a quarter of the time,” an exasperated Wyatt tells his father as they dig a trench in rocky ground by hand.

Trouble comes wandering onto the farm
The boy is impatient for any sort of adventure – his father won’t even let him go hunting with an uncle, played by country music star Trace Adkins – and he tells anyone who will listen how he longs to explore the world. Note: Jungle Cruise 2021 Streaming

That adventure shows up on the farm when a riderless horse with a bloody saddle wanders onto the property. Henry goes out in search of the rider and it starts to become clear in the way he assesses the situation when he finds the injured man, a gun and a satchel full of money that he is more than a simple farmer. Note: Venom 2 Let There Be Carnage 2021 Streaming

Against his first impulse, Henry brings the injured man, and the money, home. Not long after, three men claiming to be the law show up asking about the stranger in the house.

Not surprisingly, Henry doesn’t trust the posse on his doorstep any more than he trusts the stranger inside.

Henry’s past begins to come to light as he tries to figure out just who he can believe among the dangerous men who surround him. As the story unfolds it turns out Henry might be the most dangerous of them all. Note: Reminiscence 2021 Streaming

Tim Blake Nelson is outstanding
Nelson, best known for roles such as Delmar O’Donnell in the Coen brothers’ “O Brother Where Art Thou” and the detective known as Looking Glass in the HBO series “Watchmen,” is outstanding as Henry. Note: La Famille Addams 2 : Une virée d’enfer 2021 Streaming

His small, wiry frame seems made for portraying a man toughened by years of hard work in an unforgiving place. But when the time comes for him to make his stand, he seems large enough up for that role too.

“Old Henry” has been compared to such Western classics as Clint Eastwood’s 1992 film, “Unforgiven.” That is probably too high praise, as this doesn’t exactly break new ground. While it might not be the most original story, it is well done and Nelson’s portrayal of farmer-turned-reluctant-gunslinger is worth the price of a ticket. Note: Infinite 2021 Streaming

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