Friday, August 20, 2010

Get Low

The title of this film comes from the belief that Robert Duvall’s Felix Bush think “It’s about time I get low.” Felix has lived a long time and most of it has been isolation. He is known only as legend in his 1930s Tennessee town. He is the hermit with a hundred stories about him. One day he returns to the city in order to plan his own funeral, which he would like to attend. Alive.

Bill Murray and Lucas Black run the local funeral parlor. Everybody dies, but business is slow lately. So even though Felix’s request is unorthodox, they quickly agree. Felix wants everyone to attend that has a story to tell about him. Director Aaron Schneider does a great job with creating an uneasy town around Felix, but I wish we were able to hear more of these mysterious stories.

So much of Get Low is about what people know and don’t know. Felix has a secret that only a few people know about. It seems to be what caused him to retreat to his cabin in the woods. His old girlfriend played by Sissy Spacek knows the truth and his friend, Bill Cobbs, wants him to confess his sins. There are hints and dream sequences, but none of it is very satisfying once it is all revealed. It never challenges our perception of Felix.

There is a contradiction inherent with Get Low. I was never interested in Felix’s story, but I was interested in Duvall’s performance. Every moment is so well realized and enthralling. When he and Murray are bouncing back and forth it’s endlessly entertaining.

The film really works when it is more focused on the funeral home. Murray gets all of the best lines in the movie and handles them as a mixture between his former sarcastic persona and his new Rushmore tired man. I liked his relationship with Black as an occasionally distant co-worker and then a father figure to him. Black’s morality towards his profession was also relieving.

There are a lot of likable things about this move, especially the acting. The script falls apart when you dig deeper. Too often characters describe Felix in interesting ways and not allowing the film to just let us see him do interesting things. Still, Get Low knows how to work its dialog and the actors know how to fill the scenes with life.

Get Low is currently playing at the Keystone Landmark and other theatres across the country.

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