Saturday, March 24, 2012

Movie: Get Low

Get Low
from a story by Chris Provenzano & Scott Seeke

I've been kicking around the idea of reviewing Get Low for a while and I finally decided to give it a whirl. It's not really a traditional mystery in any sense of the word but since there's a mystery, of sorts, at the heart of the whole thing I thought I might as well go for it.

The mystery concerns what might have caused Felix Bush (Robert Duvall) to take his leave of polite society and move into the Tennessee hills for four decades. The solution might have something to do with the brief scene that opens the movie or maybe it doesn't.

Of course, if Mr. Bush was to stay sequestered in his humble cabin in the hills for the entire movie that wouldn't make for much of a story. Since he's getting up in years he's apparently feeling his mortality and decides to throw a funeral party for himself - while he's still alive. In this he enlists the services of unscrupulous funeral director Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) and his rather more scrupulous assistant, Buddy (Lucas Black). Though the cantankerous Bush is way out of practice when it comes to dealing with people he and Buddy more or less take a liking to each other. You could almost kinda sorta say that Quinn and Buddy are the detectives in this piece, trying to figure what makes the old goat tick and what turned him into a hermit.

Which is nothing terribly special, when it comes right down to it, but that's kind of beside the point. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's a McGuffin, but the point of the story isn't really Bush's somewhat climactic reveal but everything that happens to get the story to that point.

What really makes the movie stand out are the performances. Black is great as an upstanding and somewhat naïve young guy who's both intimidated and fascinated by this crusty old coot and not at all enamored of his boss's moneygrubbing tactics. Murray brings a touch of his comic flair to the proceedings and manages to make the old moneygrubbing funeral director a reasonably likeable character and Sissy Spacek is also on hand in a rather key role.

Which leaves Robert Duvall, who drives the movie and for whom the role of Felix Bush seems tailor-made (and perhaps it was, for all I know). I can't think of a movie where I didn't like Duvall's performance quite a lot and this was certainly no exception to the rule.

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