Starring: Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek
Directed by: Aaron Schneider (debut)
Written by: Chris Provenzano (“Thank You, Goodnight”) and C. Gaby Mitchell (debut)
In the opening shot of “Get Low,” we see a house engulfed in so many flames it would be virtually impossible for anyone to escape a fiery death. However, when the silhouette of a male figure manages to get out of the house and run away, you know that person has a story to tell no matter how long it’ll take him to do it.
In “Get Low,” Oscar-winning actor Robert Duvall (“Tender Mercies”) is in top form as Felix Bush, an elderly man living alone in Tennessee during the 30s who has kept a secret for years and has finally decided to tell anyone who’s interested in listening what he’s buried inside him before it’s time to be buried himself.
The revelation, however, will come on his terms. When Felix visits a funeral home run by Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) and his young associate Buddy (Lucas Black) it’s for a specific purpose. He wants to throw a funeral party for himself and wants to invite everyone that has a story to tell about him.
To ensure a big turnout (mostly because everyone is scared of him and his reputation as “Old Man Bush”), Felix announces he will leave all his land after he dies to the winner of a raffle at the event. With business not going so well for the funeral home (“People are dying in bunches everywhere but here,” Frank says), Frank sees an opportunity to make some money and agrees to help Felix plan for his unusual get-together.
Directed by first-timer Aaron Schneider, “Get Low” is a modest Southern folktale about atonement, grief, and coming to terms with one’s own mortality. Leave it to Duvall to take a character that could have come off as a small-minded grump knocking at death’s door and bring him to life. Murray, too, is a joy to watch as he stays just above the wave of melancholy that sweeps through the tone of the entire picture.
The rustic feel and slow pace of “Get Low” might not be for everyone, but if you want to see a master like Duvall craft a fine performance it might be a good idea to hitch a ride to the countryside. It’ll definitely be an inspiring journey.