First-time director Aaron Schneider is at the helm of the Depression-era Get Low, which tells the story of Felix Bush (Robert Duvall), an ostracized Tennessean who wants to throw himself a living funeral so he can hear all the gossip that’s been said about him. He makes a deal with local funeral director Frank Quinn (magnificently played by Bill Murray) and his angel-on-his-shoulder assistant, Buddy Robinson (Lucas Black). But as the story unfolds, dark quirks and demons gradually seep from Bush’s hardened exterior—and nothing is quite what it seems.
The plot is oddly funny, and Schneider, along with screenwriters Chris Provenzano and C. Gaby Mitchell, pace the story arc with ease. But the cast is the element that elevates this simple story to subtle excellence. The actors embrace quiet moments and fill them with humanity. Black holds his own onscreen amid heavyweights Sissy Spacek and Bill Cobbs, both a pure joy to watch. If only the latter two had more onscreen time.
But of them all, Duvall is the standout. His nuanced behaviors and exasperated breaths become qualities of his character that you hold onto and use as clues to the truth behind the pain—and twinkle—in his eyes. The town may have pinned Bush as a bitter, murderous old man, but you can’t stop your heart from swelling for him. And this is absolutely credited to Duvall’s genuine approach to Bush’s subtleties. So when the climax comes, Duvall nails it and your heart is pounding for Bush.
Get Low proves that the classic movie formula of good story writing and even better acting still lives, and this film’s pulse is strong with it. Not all films need explosions to feel explosive or 3-D glasses to feel dimensional. Take some notes, summer flicks, because Duvall and company just schooled all of you.
Get Low ★★★☆☆