Sunday, August 29, 2010
GET LOW / ***½
Distributor: Sony Classics
Release Date: July 30, 2010
Running Time: 100 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
In the last several years, the great Oscar winner Robert Duvall has mostly been showing up in supporting roles in critically acclaimed films like “Crazy Heart,” “The Road,” and “Thank You for Smoking.” You’d have to go all the way back to 2003’s “Assassination Tango” for the last time Duvall was the focal point of a movie.
That made it such a treat to watch him in “Get Low,” from Oscar winner Aaron Schneider (“Two Soldiers,” 2004, Best Short Film, Live Action), making his feature-film directorial debut. Duvall plays Felix Bush, a legendary hermit loosely based on a real person in Roane County, Tennessee in 1938. Felix has been in near solitary confinement on his 300 acres for almost 40 years, and no one quite knows why, though they love to make up stories about him, as people are want to do with the unknown.
The audience is more privileged though, as we are treated to an opening shot that sees a man running away from a burning house. Obviously this scene will play into the climax, and as the film progresses it becomes clear exactly how it’s going to play out.
In order to get there, Felix plans a funeral party, at which he himself will attend, and everyone in all four neighboring counties is invited to. Felix says he wants everyone to come and tell stories about him, but what he really wants is to tell the story of himself.
The screenplay by Chris Provenzano and C. Gaby Mitchell (from a story by Provenzano and Scott Seeke) offers few surprises, but is filled with a warmth and affection for its characters that carries it through. It must have been written specifically for those involved. Duvall is of course perfect, and Oscar nominee Bill Murray gives one of his most subtly brilliant performances as Frank Quinn, director of the funeral home in charge of Felix’s party. Oscar winner Sissy Spacek is effective as Mattie Darrow, a woman who knows Felix better than any of the other townspeople. Lucas Black (“Sling Blade”) holds his own with the aforementioned heavyweights as Buddy, Quinn’s assistant.
The true scene stealer is veteran character actor Bill Cobbs as the Rev. Charlie Jackson. He has a history with Felix and has a very important role in his funeral party.
“Get Low” is a very solid and enjoyable film from out of nowhere (playing in limited release, so see it if you can), and the true pleasure comes from watching Duvall and Murray make it look so easy.
Theater: RMP Festival Plaza 16 – Montgomery, Alabama
Time: 710 pm
Date: August 29, 2010