“A Night in Old Mexico”
Dir. by Emilio Aragon

Robert Duvall is a goddamn national treasure, and for that reason alone A Night in Old Mexico is a must see for those who wish to relish in the actor’s craft while we still have him. That the film around him is pretty good is just a bonus. Duvall stars as Red, an ornery, foul-mouthed rancher who is being evicted from his ranch as his grandson Gally (Jeremy Irvine) arrives from college in New York hoping to connect with the “disagreeable old bastard”he’s never met. In a moment of spontaneity and rebellion, Red and Gally venture down to Mexico for a weekend of drinks, dancing, and women. When the film focuses on the relationship between Red and Gally, it is a charming, poignant trifle anchored by a powerhouse performance from the 83-year-old Duvall, sort of a less serious, southern-tinged Leaving Las Vegas. Thankfully, this constitutes a considerable chunk of the film.

The rest of the film, which includes a bag of money, assassins, and a down on her luck nightclub singer/stripper, ranges from cliche-ridden silliness to mildly engaging drama. For his part, director Emilio Aragon handsomely stages the film, bringing an earthy glow to a Mexican border town, often candlelit by Dia De Los Muertos festivities. He also knows when to back off and let Duvall do his thing. The absolute best moments of the film come from Duvall all by himself, talking with God as if he were just another sumbitch in his way. Even as the film devolves into gunplay in the film’s final act, it manages to wring some genuine emotion from its ending. God forbid this should be Duvall’s last film, but should that be the case, the film ends with an image that would serve as a worthy swan song for the venerable actor, a moment of bittersweet triumph that encapsulates the charm, wit, and magnetic presence of one of America’s finest thespians.