Felix Bush (Robert Duvall) is a hermit who has no regard for anybody in the town or anyone who wants to get to know him. But one day, after a fellow old hermit has died and he hears people in the town telling stories about him, he decides that he needs to get these stories out in the public. He recruits Frank (Bill Murray), the local funeral home director, to host his own funeral. This way he can hear what everyone is saying about him, and get the truth to his past out in the open. But will he be able to get anybody to come? And will he be able to reveal his secrets?Written by
While Hollywood has consistently examined the "angry young man," his older counterpart is normally portrayed by a character actor in a minor role. Robert Duvall is no stranger to portraying off-beat, aging male leads, but here he accepts the ultimate challenge -- drawing an audience in to examine the life of a self-made hermit with a widely reviled yet barely explained past.
Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek, a dream team supporting cast, also portray vintage folk with secrets of their own. This partly frontier western, largely psychological mystery unravels slowly in scenes with little or no dialog. What dialog there is offers several levels of potential meaning through pregnant pauses, ill-defined sentence fragments and questions with no immediate answers.
The viewer either chooses to fill in the blanks by closely observing peripheral elements in each scene, or simply awaits a climax that ultimately explains everything. That scene never quite tells all, but intentionally and inventively so. It's the former viewer for whom this film has been so meticulously well-crafted to side-step the clearly declarative and ultimately obvious.
The score is a particularly captivating mix of period Americana and original music that resonates with the time and place -- even when performed by a Polish orchestra or under-appreciated U.S. folk/country performers of our own era.
In short, GET LOW is a niche film that quietly rewards a cinema-loving audience for investing its full attention. Leave your smart phone at home for the best multi-tasking experiences are built into the work itself. The 2009 copyright date indicates Sony Classics, after due deliberation, acquired a "hard sell" that other studios overlooked.
An early October Oscar season screening of this December U.S. release ended with much applause, atypical for guild audiences. Almost half even stayed through the credits, an indication that many involved in the film on all levels are worthy of name-recognition "for your consideration.
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