Written and directed by Oskar Nilsson, co-written by Jake Kuhn, Ervin, an ex con man, is released from prison to find his old pal Micky waiting for him. The seventy-five-year olds seem to hit it off as they drive around town, with a few pit stops along the way, but the cracks begin to show after fifteen years of neglect. Starring: Ewart James Walters, Robin Soans, Beau Dowinton, Nathalie Barclay and D’nai Pebbles.
The vintage feel of Old Man, Con Man slaps you right in the face as it opens, and it’s absolutely a perfect choice for the story. Oskar Nilsson’s directorial style plays wonderfully in tandem with the tone, embracing the elderly age of its characters and their warm personalities. It’s very much focused on dialogue so there’s almost an intimate edge to the framing, capitalising on the deep connection and friendship between its two characters. It captures a nostalgic atmosphere, and also manages to build a great balance of sweet and silly without becoming saccharine, it keeps a dose of reality.
A lot of that is due to the writing, by Nilsson and Jake Kuhn, it establishes a cheeky chappy-esque air to it initially but doesn’t ignore the implications of its story. It may not have the time for a deep dive, coming in at around eleven minutes, but it acknowledges the fractured nature of their relationship as well as the racial injustices which clearly befell Ervin (Ewart James Walters). It’s great to see it explore the mix of love and resentment between them, as committed as their friendship is, it can’t go unscathed by their different paths. They have a complicated relationship and it’s a pleasure to watch them figure it out, as it’s ultimately a funny and touching story.
Ewart James Walters and Robin Soans are a lot of fun to watch together, their banter and connection feel classically British. They have an easy going air, it’s natural and sincere, capturing both the comedic side and the emotional side to their dynamic. They also do well to not push the comedy and jovial nature too far, letting things stay on the real side rather than approaching the realm of sitcom. Ewart James Walters brings a good dose of emotion, reflecting on his time in prison and what he’s missed out on, while Robin Soans provides a compassion and generosity, aware that he’s been blessed with avoiding a sentence and building a family.
Old Man, Con Man is sweet with a touch of silly and surprisingly sincere. Its atmosphere feels very British, nostalgic and charming, which is only enhanced further with the charismatic performances from Ewart James Walters and Robin Soans. There’s an old-fashioned sensibility to it and the directorial style really lets that come through, while the writing creates a great balance of comedy and reality. It doesn’t fall too hard on either side to create something that’s both touching and a fun watch.