Published Aug 05, 2010With its roots bound in Tennessee folklore — a tale of a feisty hermit in the depression-era American south gone social, hosting his funeral while alive — Get Low spins classic simplicity and a comforting, slow building plot surrounded by complex human themes and understated performances.
From Robert Duvall comes a curmudgeonly charm and unpredictability that scream prestige and awards despite never catering to showiness or heartfelt contrivance, much like the film, which delivers the goods without gimmicks or ironic detachment.
Aaron Schneider (whose short film Two Soldiers won an Oscar back in 2003) builds the world of the Get Low through the reclusive Felix Bush (Duvall), taking him from unkempt, shotgun-wielding lunatic on his secluded property to town, where the townsfolk stare in awe, each having heard stories of violence and murder. Refused his wishes of a living funeral by the town reverend (Gerald McRaney), Bush's wishes are fulfilled by the near-bankrupt funeral home run by expert salesman Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) and his wide-eyed assistant, Buddy (Lucas Black).
It's Buddy's youthful idealism that wins over the antisocial hermit, whose world expands and unfolds through the party planning process when he is reunited with one time lover Mattie (Sissy Spacek) and old friend Reverend Jackson (Bill Cobbs). With humour and pathos, this tale of guilt and redemption moves soothingly forward to reveal Bush's past secrets in a moment well worth the wait.
Despite being surprisingly simple and unashamedly twee, energized dynamics between the fiery Duvall, the caustic Murray and the moral Spacek enliven a story about a life drawing to a close. As the characters argue and bond, revelling in life's joys and struggles, Get Low slowly draws closer to the grim eventuality that brought them together to begin with, reminding us of the power of human connection and honesty, along with the importance of living life while it's there to live. (Mongrel Media)