Reviewed by: Spencer Schumacher
|Featuring:||Robert Duvall (Felix Bush), Sissy Spacek (Mattie Darrow), Bill Murray (Frank Quinn), Lucas Black (Buddy), Gerald McRaney (Rev. Gus Horton), Bill Cobbs (Rev. Charlie Jackson), Scott Cooper (Carl), Lori Beth Edgeman (Kathryn), See all »|
|Producer:||K5 International, Zanuck Independent, David Gundlach Productions, L.A.R.A. Enterprises.com, TVN, Butcher’s Run Films, See all »|
“A true tall tale”
In accepting the role of the crotchety, stubborn old hermit Felix Bush in “Get Low” Robert Duvall said he took the part because it wasn’t a project that Hollywood would make a sequel to. Looking at his IMDb filmography (as well as that of his co-star Sissy Spacek) it’s easy to see that they have spent their entire careers avoiding scripts that are designed to become sequels or franchises. Ok, there was a sequel to “Carrie,” but one can hardly blame Sissy for that.
In “Get Low,” Duvall plays Felix Bush, a backwoods, cantankerous old man who lives in self-imposed isolation on a 300 acre lot in rural Tennessee. He has come to the realization that his days are numbered and decides that before he kicks the bucket he would like to have a funeral party and invite everyone in town to come and tell the stories they have heard about him. Trouble is, his reputation prohibits many from telling these stories, since he is known to be quite irritable and quick to fire the shotgun that he keeps steady at his side.
Since the local minister refuses to grant him his wish, if he doesn’t first ask for forgiveness from God, Bush turns to the local funeral director Frank Quinn (Bill Murray), along with his assistant “Buddy” Richardson (Lucas Black), who is more willing to grant him his request, particularly after seeing the large rolled up wad of cash that Bush carries with him.
Since Bush has lived pretty much in isolation for the last forty years, with the occasional trip into town to get groceries and cause trouble, many people only know him by the stories and tales that have circulated about him, all of which are of how cruel and dislikable he is. One person who has an entirely contradictory view of Bush is Mattie (Spacek) who lights up with joy upon reflection of the man Felix Bush once was. She compares him to a “cave,” explaining the deeper you explore this man the more fascinating he becomes.
The deeper we get into finding out who Felix Bush is, the more we realize there is more to him than just a bunch of tales and legends, and the secret he’s keeping that lead to his isolation is weighing heavy on his soul.
Though he is unapologetically unreligious (Felix would probably get along amicably with Daniel Plainview from “There Will Be Blood”), the themes “Get Low” explores are significantly spiritual. The fact that Felix is a carpenter, a rather good one, is hardly coincidental. The sole person Felix has told about his past is Rev. Charlie Jackson (Bill Cobbs), an African-American minister who has a church that Felix built for his congregation entirely out of wood.
Anyone who has seen any movies with either Spacek or Duvall (and for that matter Murray, once his acting career took a more serious turn somewhere between “Rushmore” and “Lost in Translation”) knows to expect great performances from these Academy Award winning actors, and, with those expectations, audiences will not be disappointed. Equally as impressive to the acting is the cinematic canvas that surrounds the actors. Director Aaron Schneider spent most of his career, prior to this film as a cinematographer, and it shows in every picturesque frame of this film. At any point in the film, one could stop the action and marvel at the postcard quality of the image.
There is very little objectionable material, mostly due to its setting in Depression era Tennessee. The few profane words uttered during the film are of the milder variety (there is one utterance of “g-damn”), and, most of the time, when the words are spoken, they are quickly followed up by an apology by the person who used them, lest they should tarnish innocent ears.
Though Felix Bush is a deeply troubled man and has some deep-rooted religious resentment, the film paints Christians and those with religious views in a positive light. Reverend Jackson’s character is very textured and far from the self-righteous, close-minded, intolerant man of faith that Hollywood usually uses to depict those with religious views.
“Get Low” is loosely based on a real event of a man who threw his own funeral party in the ‘30’s. Though Felix Bush wants to have a party and hear what others have to say about him, no matter how bad those things may be, at the heart of the film is a message of forgiveness, redemption and making peace with one’s past.
You are probably not going to find a Felix Bush action figure this summer in your local fast-food chain, however don’t be surprised if Duvall (as well as his co-stars Spacek and Murray) is nominated for a different type of figure, the golden ones handed out by the Academy.
“Get Low” is rated PG-13 for some thematic material and brief violent content; it has a running time of 100 minutes.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate to Heavy / Sex/Nudity: None
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