New Release Film Review: Get Low

Get Low
Starring: Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Lucas Black, Sissy Spacek, Bill Cobbs
Director: Aaron Schneider
Sony Pictures Classics
Rated PG-13 for some thematic material and brief violent content

There are few actors who are able to command the screen with their performances, but for those who can, they can do so with a simple look, a simple phrase, and in rare instances, just by being there. Robert Duvall is that class of actor, the kind of thespian who instantly brings credibility and gravitas to his films. In his latest film, Get Low, Duvall brings every part of his fifty plus years of experience as an actor and delivers one of the finest, if not the best, performances of his careers. Get Low is a deeply moving often poignant film that deserves far more accolades than it has received. The film is now available on VUDU to own in SD, HD, and HDX, and will be available to rent in all three formats beginning March 24, 2011.

Get Low tells the story of Felix Bush (Robert Duvall), a hermit living alone in the woods who is greatly misunderstood. The subject of gossip from the local townsfolk and torment from the local children, Frank prefers to keep all people at a distance. As he’s advanced in years, he realizes his time on Earth may be coming to an end, and he wants to put his affairs in order. With the help of Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) and Buddy Robinson (Lucas Black), the operators of a local mortuary, Felix plans to throw a “living funeral,” inviting anyone who ever knew or heard of him so that they may share their stories of him. As they have fallen on hard financial times, Frank and Buddy help despite the bizarre nature of the request. Things become complicated, however, as an old secret that has haunted Felix for the last forty years begins to surface when he runs into local widow and old friend, Mattie (Sissy Spacek). Before Felix can move on, he must first face his own personal demons.

Director Aaron Schneider really struck gold in his first feature length film, especially when working with such high caliber actors as Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, and Sissy Spacek. Such a lineup of heavyweights might seem a daunting task for the first timer, but Schneider is able to bring out amazing performances with the skill of a Scorsese or Spielberg. With his cinematographer David Boyd, he perfectly captures the look and feel of small town and rural Southern America in the 1930s, effectively making the setting a character of its own. The rural areas add a layer of grim seclusion to the life of Felix Bush who hides away in his self-imposed prison, and it uses the small town nearby to juxtapose Felix’s life with a modern (for the time) way of life.

Robert Duvall truly gives one of his finest performances in Get Low. He simultaneously brings an intensity and a subtlety to Felix, no easy task for any actor. The audience can feel his inner pain and turmoil without Duvall overtly expressing his anguish. Of course, Duvall is assisted with an amazing supporting cast in Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, and others. Murray, who has peppered his career over the last fifteen years with offbeat comedies and serious dramas, brings his unique style of comedy to Get Low while maintaining the films dramatic and mysterious tone. He continues to prove that his versatility knows no bounds, and continues to wow audiences with his choice of roles. Spacek provides a worthy foe to Duvall, playing the sister of Felix’s former lover who died under mysterious circumstances. As Mattie, she too brings intensity and subtlety to her character. She challenges Felix to right his wrongs, forcing him to confront his fears and takes away the comfort he has given himself by hiding in the woods.

Sony Pictures Classics continues to provide American audiences with its impressive line of independent and foreign cinema. Get Low is easily one of their finest films of the last decade. Unfortunately, their movies don’t often attract a wide audience, typically only receiving limited marketing campaigns and theatrical release. Thankfully, at VUDU, Get Low can reach a whole new and wider audience who may have never heard of the movie before. The entire movie is worth the watch, but the acting performances, the beautiful and dark cinematography, and a soundtrack that captures the essence of the American rural south in the 1930s are truly the highlights of a film that everyone should see.

DID YOU KNOW?

Bill Murray is notoriously hard to cast in films, as he has no agent or publicist. He handles all communication on his own, often taking him a long time to respond to any inquiries. Producer Dean Zanuck and director Aaron Schneider both wrote Murray to see if he’d be interested. Murray thought both letters were “nice,” but it wasn’t until Murray received Schneider’s Academy Award winning short film on DVD and learned that he’d be co-starring with Robert Duvall that he decided to commit to the movie.