Rated PG-13 for some thematic material and brief violent content, 100 minutes
Leisurely, well-acted "Get Low" spins an interesting tale
"Get Low" is one of those films that you should stay with until the end. Overly familiar, earnest, very leisurely but warmly performed, "Get Low" is affecting enough to leave you with some good moments. The highlight of the independently-made film is the award-winning, talented cast including Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray and Lucas Black, all of whom give genuinely winning turns.
Loosely based on real-life events in the late 1930's Tennessee, the film is about misunderstood Felix Bush (Duvall), who lives as a hermit deep in the woods. Rumors surround him, like how he might have killed in cold blood, and that he's in league with the devil. Ill and nearing death, the town is surprised when Felix shows up in town, demanding a "living funeral" for himself. Frank Quinn (Murray), the owner of the town's struggling funeral parlor, sees an opportunity for some money, and agrees to Felix's unusual request to let the townspeople tell their stories about Felix. However, get messy when an old mystery is brought back by Quinn's partner Buddy Robinson (Black), involving a local widow named Mattie Darrow (Spacek). When Felix's funeral rolls around, however, he'll tell the townsfolk exactly why he has been alone in the woods for so many years.
The bittersweet, superbly performed "Get Low" has a warm, familar feel to it along with a veteran cast, which is likely its biggest appeal. Duvall gives the film its heart in a performance as an old codger, ones that he's been giving for years now. He could very well be recognized for his affecting turn here as the misunderstood Felix. He and fellow Oscar-winner Spacek share some of the film's best moments in their few scenes together. They have a subtle, shorthand way of communicating as veteran actors do: with their faces, and you know exactly how they're feeling just by watching their faces.
If Duvall is the heart of "Get Low," the comic relief would unsurprisingly be Murray, who regularly steals scenes and can throw out one-liners with lax sardonic amusement ("in Chicago there's never a shortage of dead people," he quips), and it's a great deal of fun seeing both Murray and Duvall, who can also steal scenes with the best of them, go at it. Lucas Black ("Jarhead") is perfectly cast as Murray young protege who comes to care for Felix.
"Get Low," in spite of the great performances, is too slow in places and may lose those expecting lots of action and special effects, and the dawdling script could've been tightened to resolve the plot more efficiently. It ambles in too many places, particularly in the frighteningly slow second act. The ending is emotional, poignant, and fitting given the story.
"Get Low" comes recommended for the performances alone and see some veteran actors doing their best work. Stay with it until the end and you'll be rewarded.