get low is a wonderful, somber, seemingly dark little movie that wins you over with seamless direction and a solid, believable script. it does so through patience, simplicity and heartwarming performances.
robert duvall is the star here, but he is not let down by an amazing supporting cast, which includes the always wonderful sissy spacek and the charming and earnest lucas black, who is all grown up now but who a lot of us will remember as the darling little boy ‘frank’ from sling blade. more notably here is bill murray, playing a down-on-his-luck mortician at the end of his rope. he steals every scene he’s in – even with powerhouse duvall guiding the ship.
this is the story of felix bush, who is outcast in the town. he’s got a horrible rep. he’s the towns bogeyman. the stories about him abound, though none are really more horrible than his own story which he keeps to himself for 40 years of isolation. one day he plods into town with his mule and declares that he’d like to have his funeral party before he dies and that he’d like to attend. he’d like everyone who has a story about him to come tell it. this plot is supposedly part true, part legend and part folk tale. it doesn’t sound like a great movie. as i type it, it sounds a little silly. but it works. why would he wake up one morning to this particular revelation? who knows. it doesn’t matter. this and all great films are about redemption. that is what he seeks, through the artifice of the party. by and by he gets his redemption.
robert duvall is truly one of the top 10 film actors of all time. he is so solid at every turn. he comes from the school of ‘less is more’ acting. not minimalist, mind you. just less is more. when he is on screen doing ‘nothing’ you are still riveted. he simply becomes this cagey, cantakerous old guy and even when he’s sitting in a room alone you aren’t watching the action. instead you are wondering what he’s thinking. you wait for him to reveal his secret or to act. he’s only elevated his craft as he’s gotten older whereas a lot of the ‘great’ actors of his generation seem to have just gone cold. what a man! i just reviewed his acting credits all the way back to 1962′s to kill a mockingbird and it’s hard to find a misstep. robert duvall is a real treasure.
the pacing of this film is perfectly matched to the storyline. the dialogue is folksy but still retains an awareness and intelligence that is refreshing and missing from a lot of movies.
one thing i will say in a negative vein is in regards to the marketing for this movie. this movie came out earlier this year but i did not go out to see it. the reason was the marketing. it was another instance of the trailer revealing so many details of the plot i felt like i didn’t need to see it. i’m feeling this more and more with a lot of movies. i feel like they show you so much information with the trailer that the one or two reveals they hold back aren’t worth it.
i wished i would have seen this in the theater instead of my home. this movie is sweet, funny, smart and delightful.