Never Grow Old is a fairly low-budget Western that came out earlier this year in the States, and was directed by Ivan Kavanaugh. It played in France and allegedly at 10 theatres in the UK, though as far as I can tell it never got a proper US release outside of home video. And it’s not a bad movie, in fact a much better film than its straight-to-video fate suggests.
It’s an interesting little Western that stars Emile Hirsch. Hirsch plays an Irish-immigrant undertaker and carpenter, Patrick Tate, who is living in a frontier town. He and his French wife (Déborah François) have a couple of kids. Everything seems to be going well, but his world comes tumbling down when an outlaw called Dutch Albert (John Cusack) comes to town. He takes over the town, reopens the whorehouse, and the town is soon full of sin after being a nice cosy god-fearing town. Before you know it, a young girl is sold into prostitution, kills her first john, and is carried off to be hanged—whereas Cusack’s character gets away with murder constantly. Patrick from the start is forced to compromise his own morals to please Dutch’s demands.
The film touches on Irish immigration to the US, the way women were treated in the West, and Christianity. Danny Webb gives a standout performance as a moralistic priest, Preacher Pike, with an amazing scene near the end. Hirsch’s accent has come in for criticism but his performance is good (he’s also in Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood, where he plays Jay Sebring, he is having a good year!). It’s also Cusack’s best role since playing Brian Wilson in Love & Mercy and in his later years he has really excelled at playing villainous characters, his turn in The Paperboy is a particular favourite.
It was definitely not shot in the US, but that’s fine—no doubt thanks to tax credits, it was made mostly in Ireland and a little bit in Luxembourg, and it’s well-shot. All in all, it’s a tough, sometimes nasty Western where almost no one gets out alive—well worth seeing. It’s by far the best western of 2019 so far unless you count the Western sequences in Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood that is.
The disc includes a 75-minute making-of feature made up of long interview segments that play one after another, with some extra making-of footage.