Synopsis: A Tennessee hermit orchestrates and presides over his own funeral.
Release Date: July 30, 2010 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Drama, Period Piece
Get Low is the story of Felix Bush (Robert Duvall), a hermit living in the Tennessee backwoods during the Great Depression. Felix has sequestered himself in exile for forty years, a self-imposed punishment for an unknown sin in his past. Bent and grizzled with age, he’s become the subject of local rumor with a boogeyman reputation the crazy-haired, shotgun-toting Felix encourages. But what is this mysterious secret that Mr. Bush keeps and it is a really bad enough to justify a forty year withdrawal from society? The film doesn’t answer that question until the last ten minutes, by which time perhaps no explanation is sufficient to support the suspense created in the beginning of the movie.
Felix takes an interest in his own legend, enlisting the proprietors of the local funeral parlor Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) and his assistant Buddy Robinson (Lucas Black) to throw him a funeral party so that he can hear the townspeople tell all their stories about the eccentric Mr. Bush. Quinn, who is not a particularly moral man and strapped for cash, gleefully agrees to throw Bush a funeral while he’s still alive. Bill Murray is quietly brilliant in the role of Quinn and his unscrupulous business practices (“Ooh, hermit money. That’s good.”) are a highlight of the film.
We’re clued into a possible solution to the mystery when Felix is re-introduced to an old friend named Mattie Darrow (Sissy Spacek). The two appear to have a romantic history and both have a connection to Mattie’s long-deceased sister. Adding to the complications, Mattie also seems to be seeing Frank Quinn. This is where the film loses much of its interest, dissolving into a traditional melodrama. Instead of zeroing in on the quirks of the various characters and their struggle to come to grips with their complex and interconnected pasts, the movie is overwhelmed by hackneyed sentimentality. The ending in particular is marred by a conventional denouement; a shame which threatens to overshadow Robert Duvall’s heart-wrenching monologue at Felix’s funeral party.
Director Aaron Schneider previously won an Oscar for his short subject film Two Soldiers. Get Low often feels like an overly long short film; there just isn’t enough plot to justify its feature length. The movie hinges on the reveal of Felix’s past misconduct, a climax that is drawn out for much too long and undercuts the dramatic impact of his reveal. Although purportedly the story of a true American eccentric, Get Low delivers a disappointingly conventional tall tale.
All that being said, besides the story, this is a beautiful film. Shot on location in Georgia, you get a wonderfully authentic sense of 1930s Southern life. The film palette is a melange of rust-colored reds and steel grays. From the woods to the town, there is a pervading sense of a cold, hardscrabble existence for Felix as much as for the Quinn and Buddy. The costuming also aids in a feeling of authenticity; character wardrobe is beautiful but never ostentatious and always functional. Coats are heavy and woolen, and clothes appear worn and lived-in. Fans of vintage Americana will find much to look at and love in Get Low.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Aaron Schneider
- Producer(s): Chris ProvenzanoC. Gaby Mitchell
- Screenwriter(s): Robert Duvall (Felix Bush)Sissy Spacek (Mattie Darrow)Bill Murray (Frank Quinn)
- Story: Lucas Black (Buddy)
- Cast: Aaron SchneiderDavid BoydGeoffrey Kirkland
- Cinematographer: Jan A.P. Kaczmarek
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USAGermany