Get Low

  • Film
  • Drama
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A silhouetted figure rolls out of the window of a rural house on fire and dashes out of the frame. From there, we leap forward in time to the shabby hovel of Felix Bush (Robert Duvall), a bristly malcontent who’s quit town because of a shameful secret he harbours relating to the same blaze. Conscious that it’s almost time for him to ‘Get Low’ (uh, die), he visits
a funeral parlour overseen by rakish money-grabber Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) and his sweet-natured protégé Buddy (Lucas Black) in order to arrange a pre-death funeral where townsfolk share the tall tales they’ve heard about him and he unburdens himself of past indiscretions.

Like the bespoke furniture Felix keeps in his shack, this is a film built of stern materials, with perfectly rounded edges and smoothly lacquered surfaces. A tinkering, unobtrusive bluegrass soundtrack and a mighty, mumbling lead turn from Duvall (recalling the holy fool he played in his superb directorial effort, ‘The Apostle’) lift the proceedings, while Murray perfectly tunes his comic supporting performance so as not to trample on his leading man’s toes. Yet meaty as director Aaron Schneider makes his film feel, there’s always a sneaking suspicion that he hasn’t fully worked out what he wants to say. Felix’s cryptic motivations sustain interest in what the big reveal may be, but the side discussions on religious guilt, death and the psychological harm of self-imposed exile feel underwhelming and unimaginative. That the finale ends up being trite is a shame, but the long, gentle jaunt to arrive there is a pleasurable one.

Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Friday January 21 2011
Duration: 103 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Aaron Schneider
Cast: Robert Duvall
Sissy Spacek
Bill Murray
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