Old Henry Parent Guide
With its depth of character and solid cinematography, this movie has an appeal that goes beyond fans of the Old West.
Parent Movie Review
Running a small farm is not easy work. For Henry (Tim Blake Nelson) and his son Wyatt (Gavin Lewis), it’s been even harder since the death of Wyatt’s mother. When an injured stranger rides into the farm with a bullet wound and a huge bag of cash, things only get more complicated. The wounded man, Curry (Scott Haze), claims to be a sheriff from a nearby county, on the run from a gang of dangerous bank robbers. However, when Ketchum (Stephen Dorff) traces him to Henry’s farmhouse, he also claims to be the sheriff. With their lives and a lot of money on the line, Henry is going to have to choose who to believe – and fast. But Henry has secrets of his own…
As a fan of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, it was lovely to see Tim Blake Nelson back in the Old West – there’s something about his distinctive features that lends itself well to the period. Thankfully, he’s more than just an…unusual face: he’s also a good actor with solid screen presence and fascinating delivery.
The other star of the show is the scenery. Old Henry was shot in Tennessee, and something about the rolling hills and cold winter light speak to the temporal setting – the end of the “Old West”. This is a very melancholy little film, with its small cast and isolated setting. But it fits a film about endings and death, redemption and forgiveness, and the tragedy of an inescapable past.
As with most westerns, the biggest concern is violence. There’s only one big shootout, but it’s a doozy, with many men shot, stabbed, and even struck with a hatchet. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of blood. There’s relatively little profanity, though, and no sexual content at all. While this film is unrated, I think it might sneak in at a strong PG-13, or at worst, a soft R. I’d say it’s suitable for teenagers, provided they have the attention span, but definitely not for younger viewers.
I think Old Henry has enough depth to appeal to more than just the dedicated band of Western fans. The thoughtful character work and stunning cinematography ought to impress a broader audience – provided that audience has the patience for all the character work. This isn’t just one gunfight after another, and if you’re looking for non-stop action, then keep looking. But there’s plenty of good action to choose from, and I’m happy to find a film that focuses on more than trying to see how many people you can shoot in 90 minutes.Directed by Potsy Ponciroli. Starring Tim Blake Nelson, Scott Haze, and Gavin Lewis. Running time: 99 minutes. Theatrical release October 1, 2021. Updated February 24, 2022
Watch the trailer for Old Henry
Rating & Content Info
Why is Old Henry rated Not Rated? Old Henry is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: Numerous people are shot and killed or injured. A man is tortured and strangled. There is a scene depicting the removal of a bullet without anesthetic. A corpse is fed to pigs. Some individuals are stabbed or struck with a hatchet.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There are three uses of scatological profanity, one extreme profanity, and infrequent use of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults are seen drinking whiskey for anesthetic and disinfectant properties. An adult character is briefly seen smoking.
Page last updated February 24, 2022
Old Henry Parents' Guide
What is Henry’s secret? How does knowing that change your perception of him as a character? How do you think that influences his relationship with Wyatt? How does it affect Wyatt’s perception of him? What does this movie say about redemption? What actually happened in some of the historical events referenced in the film?
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Other modern westerns include Tombstone, Unforgiven, 3:10 to Yuma, True Grit (2010), The Magnificent Seven (2016), The Revenant, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and Hostiles. Perhaps the prototypical western is The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Neo-westerns include films like No Country for Old Men, Wind River, and Hell or High Water. Kids might enjoy Rango or Home on the Range. If you like seeing Tim Blake Nelson as a gunslinger, you’ll enjoy the Netflix anthology The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.