“Get Low” takes a “low” budget and proves - as many art films do - that you don’t need big buck effects and an investment of millions to make a great film. Imagination and a great cast often does the trick.
Robert Duvall is Felix Bush, a crusty old hermit in self-imposed exile. An event from his youth is the cause. Hiding from the world spawns years of dreadful tales about him from the town folk.
In rural Tennessee in the 1930s there wasn’t much else to do.
There isn’t much else for us to do either. When Felix decides to “get low” — a metaphor for getting buried — the cackling grows in intensity. A dollop at a time we’re given clues about Felix’s heinous crime and his decade long attempt at absolution.
Most of what you learn about Felix comes from Duvall’s patented facial expressions and mannerisms. The blanks are filled in by what he doesn’t say. Sissy Spacek co-stars as a past love returned to her roots. Her character’s life is intertwined with Felix in expected and unexpected ways.
Like Duvall, Spacek is a skilled actress whose lighter-than-air delivery makes the craft look easy. Wrapping up the names in the cast is Bill Murray — who has made a career majoring in emotionless deadpan — as the funeral director, and with help from the more expressive Lucas Black, he provides comic relief.
Felix really doesn’t want to die, he just wants to let people talk openly about him and finally tell his side of the story. By the way, the movie is loosely based on real events that became a not-to-be-missed media event.
Ironically, it also ends up being a not-to-be-missed movie event in 2010.
5 stars/4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars / 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars / 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars / 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself