Get Low (2009)

May 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

From left: Robert Duvall, Lucas Black and Bill Murray in 'Get Low'

Written by Chris Provenzano and C. Gaby Mitchell, based on a story by Provenzano and Scott Seeke

Directed by Aaron Schneider

Starring Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Lucas Black and Sissy Spacek

Hollywood is often derided for a lack of interesting characters in their films and stories that are too convoluted to understand with stakes always too high or too low and nothing in the middle that truly matters. Get Low is the inverse. The characters are richly drawn and interwoven with interesting, grounded relationships, personality quirks and human qualities. People laugh at the slightly ridiculous without being offensive or stupid, they tell each other jokes off handedly in an otherwise serious conversation, much like real life. The individual moments in Get Low make for a very pleasant viewing experience, ensconced in low-key old time-y Southern locales that ooze warmth and Americana, like a warm slice of apple pie.

Robert Duvall is perfectly adequate as the folksy, cooky old codger who’s been a recluse for many years over a shameful incident in his past that has born from it a legend about him being the veritable boogy man. He wants to plan a funeral while he’s alive and make amends with the town. He does this with the help of a local funeral parlor operated by the dryly comic Bill Murray. Murray is pleasant and appealing, but basically coasts through his performance. Lucas Black, a fine young actor who limits his potential by refusing to hide his thick as molasses Alabama accent is great as Murray’s assistant and Sissy Spacek is nice to see as the functional romantic interest and humanizing counterpoint for Duvall’s ancient curmudgeon.

At the end of the film, after what build up there is, nothing much happens. This is a beautiful story with no real point, beautifully drawn characters with no real point. Perhaps the film makers knew there was no pay off, hence they had to fill the first 90% of the film with the best characterizations and individual scenes of the year.

Bill Murray is nothing short of brilliant and Robert Duvall proves there is plenty of room left in Hollywood for the elder statesmen to steal shows without resorting to anything less than subtlety, but this story falls of the rails with some magnificent performances en tow.


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