Thursday, August 12, 2010

Get high on 'Get Low'

Most reviewers have spent ample time praising Robert Duvall's work in Get Low, a satisfying drama about Felix Bush, a backwoods hermit who makes a public appearance in order to plan his own funeral. The catch: Felix wants to stage the funeral before he dies so that he can attend. Rather than providing a platform for encomiums, the funeral is supposed to allow folks to say what they really think of the bearded old codger. Duvall plays these kinds of taciturn loners with ease, never feeling a need to peek out from behind the character; he's predictably good. But for me, Bill Murray -- as the undertaker who agrees to stage Felix's funeral -- steals the show. Like Duvall, although in an entirely different way, Murray refuses to ingratiate himself with an audience. He's wry, smart and perfect as Frank Quinn, a man with slightly checkered past. Sissy Spacek offers able support as Mattie Darrow, a woman who seems to know Felix's secrets. Lucas Black excels as Quinn's assistant, and Bill Cobbs has a nice turn as a preacher and one-time friend to Felix. Director Aaron Schneider does an able job with a small movie built around one man's severe expression of guilt. Set during bleak 1930s, Get Low stands as a lovely little drama, even if it seems to have been designed mostly to accommodate Duvall. Thankfully, it does right by just about everyone else in the cast, too.

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