In the new film “Get Low,” Felix Bush (Robert Duvall) thinks it’s about time that he get low, but not in the way most students are probably imagining.
The film is set in 1938—way before Lil Jon and the Eastside Boys made popular a song by the same name—and at 74 years old, Mr. Bush thinks it’s about time to end his 40-year stint as a recluse and plan his funeral.
There’s just one slight hang up—Bush isn’t dead and he won’t be come time for the funeral. This could be an issue for some funeral directors, but not Frank Quinn (Bill Murray).
Quinn’s business is hurting, people aren’t dying and Bush has money, so the funeral party is born.
There are two things that make this film worth seeing: Duvall’s pitch-perfect performance as Bush and the painstaking care taken in bringing to life this genuine piece of Americana.
Duvall seems more than at home as the disagreeable hermit; the part could have been written for him. He delivers Bush believably whether he’s scaring away the kids who throw rocks through his windows, talking to his beloved mule or asking for forgiveness.
With such a performance, its even more impressive that he doesn’t completely steal the show from Murray as the greedy funeral director with a soft side or the equally well-acted Mattie Darrow (Sissy Spacek).
When “Get Low” falls short, it isn’t the fault of bad acting or poor execution.
The film is shot beautifully and is unwaveringly true to its time.
The first hour is everything you could want—conflict, humor, unrequited love and mystery. It all builds up to the big event that turns out to not be much of an event at all.
The live-funeral party is true—Felix “Bush” Breazeale threw himself the biggest party Tennessee’s Roane County had ever seen—but the scene does not come across as something that 12,000 people from 14 states would have traveled all that way to attend.
I was disappointed that I traveled 10 minutes to have the movie end that way.
The writers inevitably stray from the original story, as in just about any story based on true events, and I only wonder why they didn’t do more. They had no problem adding plot lines and characters—and doing it well, as Murray’s and Spacek’s characters are fictional—so why not add to the final scene? The entire movie leads up to the funeral where Bush will finally reveal the reason he’s spent 40 years alone in the woods. He spills his secret but the whole thing comes across so flat that I was left asking, “Is that it?”
While “Get Low” is inevitably drawing a larger crowd than its inspiration, I hope for those people’s sake that the original was more eventful than its recreation.
“Get Low” gets three stars for the most promising two-thirds of a movie I’ve seen in a long time and possibly the most anticlimactic end ever.