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“Review: ‘Old Henry’ and star Tim Blake Nelson have a few tricks up their sleeves”

The last time most of us saw Tim Blake Nelson in the saddle, he was the warblin’ deadeye from the title of the Coen brothers’ “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” a jovial caricature of the philosophizing cowboy (and the filmmakers’ own reputation for cruelly funny storytelling). But also, because of the actor’s reliability, a figure that still felt rooted in the history of the horse opera.

I have no idea if filmmaker Potsy Ponciroli wrote the coiled, small-scale western “Old Henry” for Nelson’s particular gifts with frontier authenticity — again, he’s the guy in the movie’s name, only this time a full-on lead — but it sure does seem like Ponciroli did. Seeming is a lot of what “Old Henry” is about too: what looks cut and dried but might not be, appears bucolic but isn’t exactly, and what only sounds truthful. 

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