Never Grow Old Review – Mud and Rain in This Classic Western
In Never Grow Old we see the moral struggles of the undertaker in a classic, yet waterlogged, western.
“Never Grow Old” opens with an unnecessary prologue of Patrick Tate (Emile Hirsch) slowly walking from a burnt down building up the stairs of another with a large shotgun in his hands. The movie then cuts back to tell the audience how he arrived at this place. Patrick is the undertaker and carpenter of a little mud covered town in the mid-1800s called Garlow. He is an Irish immigrant who has settled down with his wife (Audrey Tate) and children. There isn’t much to do in Garlow as the local preacher (Danny Webb) has convinced the small population to ban alcohol, gambling, and prostitution. That is until Dutch Albert (John Cusack) arrives in town. A town that reflects the murky decision making of the characters with mud and rain throughout the movie.
Writer and director Ivan Kavanagh does a nice job of following the line of classic western, while also jumping over the line with the morally ambiguous decision making of the characters in the film. The protagonist isn’t the sheriff or the silent gunslinger who turns out to be a good guy, but in this case, it is the town’s undertaker. The character we have seen over and over again in westerns, who shows up with his coffin that the deceased are carted off in. What is the story of that undertaker, what is his life like? In “Never Grow Old” we get an idea. We also get an idea of the moral dilemma associated with a business dependent on the death of others.
Those of us who are familiar with the genre know how this movie will play out. And that is okay because that is what we enjoy about westerns in the same way an Elmore Leonard western book isn’t all that different from one to the other yet still worth reading. Kavanagh provides us with that classic moral struggle. With the saloon on one side of the only road through this one-horse town directly facing off against the uncompromising church on the other. Kavanagh’s message in this film couldn’t be clearer. Good versus evil, but as we watch the movie and see the hypocrisy of the church opposite of the brutal honesty of what happens in the saloon- the line through the street is mixed with mud and blood.
- Director: Ivan Kavanagh
- Written by: Ivan Kavanagh
- Starring: Emile Hirsch, John Cusack, and Déborah François
- Running Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes
- Rated: R
- Budget: $12,000,000 est.
- Released Date: US March 15, 2019 | UK and Ireland August 23, 2019
Review by Milo Denison, the author of “How to Manage Your Manager” a satirical look at being successful in the corporate world.
For a video review visit YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIB-AQPPtio&t=219s