Autumn 2010 Features series
Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 4:00pm
Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 7:00pm
Directed by Aaron Schneider
Screenplay by Chris Provenzano and C. Gaby Mitchell
Starring Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, Robert Duvall, Lucas Black
Rated PG ·
USA, Germany, Poland
Get Low is a poignant and surprisingly insightful folk tale about pain, guilt, loss and loneliness, and how – if we’re lucky – it’s never too late to earn a little friendship and forgiveness.
American legend Robert Duvall returns to the screen in the larger-than-life lead role of Felix Bush, a notorious hermit who rejoins society only to plan his own funeral party. For the past forty years, Felix (Duvall, Crazy Heart, The Road) has lived as a hermit deep in the Tennessee backwoods. Rumours about his violent past abound, and he lends credibility to those accounts by brandishing (and occasionally firing) a shotgun when unwelcome guests ignore the sign on the road to his property: “No damn trespassing. Beware of mule.”
One day Bush walks into the local funeral parlour and announces to Frank Quinn (Bill Murray, The Limits of Control, Broken Flowers),“I need a funeral.” More importantly, he wants a funeral party, an event that will draw all his friends and enemies to his shack in the woods for a final reckoning – and he wants to throw the party while he’s still alive.
Based on a true story, Get Low has the feel of a classic American tale. Its style evokes westerns both old and new. There is something of Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller in first-time director Aaron Schneider’s storytelling, a straightforward simplicity reflected also in the evocative bluegrass-flavoured score and by the film’s richly composed images.
The beauty of the cinematography serves as a backdrop to resonant performances from each actor. Lucas Black (Jarhead, All the Pretty Horses) more than holds his own as the undertaker’s sidekick, playing against Murray’s sly rhythms with upright sincerity. Taking the role of Felix’s former lover, Sissy Spacek (North Country, In the Bedroom) is a pure pleasure to watch in her scenes with Duvall.
And for Duvall, Get Low marks a welcome return. Always a minimalist, he is now at the stage where he can do so much more onscreen with so much less. His every moment here is a lesson in living before the camera. It stands with his best-ever performances, lending this classic story from a bygone era a quiet majesty.
Sometimes the singer matters more than the song, and this slightly corny old melody is delivered with such wonderfully off-beat harmony by its amazing cast. A.O.Scott