Get Low

12 Aug

Title: Get Low
Year: 2010
Director: Aaron Schneider
Writers: Chris Provenzano and C. Gaby Mitchell, from the story by Chris Provenzano and Scott Seeke
Starring: Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray, Lucas Black, Scott Cooper
MPAA Rating: PG-13, thematic material and brief violent content
Runtime: 103 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 7.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

Get Low is the sort of film I adore, and I open with pretty much this exact statement every review of similar films, it’s just a film full of subtleties and human emotions that has been cast to perfection and that boasts a couple of masterful performances. Because that’s really the only word one can use to qualify the performances Robert Duvall and Bill Murray give in this film, “masterful”, not to say that the rest of the cast isn’t equally impeccable, because they are, but these two guys are just on another level to me.

This is an at-times-deep and just plain wonderful film, and I mean, seriously, if you see that a theatre is showing a film that stars Robert Duvall and Billy Murray and you don’t feel the desperate urge to go see it as soon as you possibly can then I could make a pretty good case for you being completely idiotic, these are two of the finest actors living today who excel in this sort of character film, just imagine what would happen if you put them together, these are just two actors any sane person would pay to see in anything. Get Low does tend to get a bit melodramatic at the end, and that’s what kept me from giving it a perfect score, because otherwise this one nails everything just right, the humanity of its characters is written perfectly and embodied by pitch-perfect performances from everyone involved.

Mr. Duvall plays Felix Bush tremendously, it’s like he is Felix Bush, the guy with a crazy beard, a mule and a shotgun, a total absolute hermit. You know Mr. Duvall’s schtick by now, except it isn’t a schtick because it works so damn effectively, his “schtick” would be his ability of lending his sense of seriousness and just outright imposing credibility to every single character he plays, that’s what he does, and he’s just so damn good at it, look at his recent work in films like Crazy Heart or The Road. Robert Duvall has been nominated for an Academy Award six times, won one of those in 1998 for The Apostle, and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if he scored his seventh nod for this one.

The title of the film comes from one of the scenes in which Felix Bush finds out that one of his old friends has died, and he himself decides how he wants his own death to be handled, how he wants to “get low”, and to do that he pays an unusual visit to town, and goes to the local undertaker, a man named Frank Quinn who is the character Bill Murray handles ever so splendidly. With Frank’s help Felix decides every detail of him getting low, the headstone, who he wants to speak at the funeral, everything.

And that’s what this whole film is about really, because, you see, Felix wants his money’s worth while he’s still alive, he wants the funeral ceremonies to take place right then and there, something that apparently actually did happen to a man in the 1930’s. However it’s about so much more, from the opening scene you know Felix is harboring a dark secret, and from the moment you see him you know he’s not a man that tells his secrets lightly, and we get to see the journey of this man, up until that final speech he gets to give, to that final day in which so much happens, and it’s all told just beautifully by this amazingly talented group of actors guided by director Aaron Schneider, a guy who made his directorial debut with this one, and what an impressive first outing this was.

Both Mr. Duvall, as I have said before, and Mr. Murray are pretty much playing a slightly different version of the same character they have played for the past decade or so, but that’s all right, that’s really all right, these are two guys who are just too damn talented at playing these characters, these are two great character actors acting in one of the best character pieces I have seen in a while, which is I guess in part why this falls into that melodrama territory I spoke of earlier, were it anybody other than Robert Duvall that final speech would have seemed a tad too much, but he can pull it off.

Yes, there are flaws in Get Low, but I think that each of those flaws were there to enable the characters to do some cool stuff, and, considering the actors playing the characters, I’m forgive those slight flaws, I mean, yes, this does end up in corny and sappy territory during the end, but it does pave way for a couple of really cool moments from Robert Duvall, and those are totally worth it. And really, if you go to see Get Low it has to be mostly because it stars Mr. Duvall and Mr. Murray and if such is the case you’ll love this, because the pleasure you get from this film comes from watching these guys do their thing, because you know they’re the best at it, snd it’s tremendous to see it all unravel.

Grade: A-


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