EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|GET LOW (director: Aaron Schneider; screenwriters: Chris Provenzano/C. Gaby Mitchell/based on a story by Mr. Provenzano and Scott Seeke; cinematographer: David Boyd; editor: Aaron Schneider; music: Jan A. P. Kaczmarek; cast: (Felix Bush), (Mattie Darrow), (Frank Quinn), Lucas Black (Buddy), Gerald McRaney (Rev. Gus Horton), Bill Cobbs (Rev. Charlie Jackson), Scott Cooper (Carl), Lorie Beth Edgeman (Kathryn, Buddy's wife), Linds Edwards (WKNG Announcer); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Dean Zanuck/David Gundlach; Sony Pictures Classics; 2009)|
|"Great actors can at times elevate so-so material."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Languidly and at times
awkwardly directed by Aaron
Schneider, in his directorial debut (who also was editor). It's based
on a true story by Chris Provenzano
Scott Seeke, and is written by Provenzano and C. Gaby Mitchell. Meant
to be a comedy with homespun humor and portending to have something
perceptive to say about the human condition, which it accomplishes
except it looks too familiar like something we seen many times before
and thereby fails to be exciting. If Robert Duvall wasn't playing an
eccentric crank character, a part that he can do in his sleep, and
giving us his usual brilliant performance, this pic would be closer to
a dirge than a heartwarming drama.
It tells of a guilt-ridden
hermit, with a big secret, Felix Bush (),
who in the 1930s lived in the backwoods of East Tennessee. The title is
a slang Southern term that refers to a funeral.
The unpopular and ornery
Bush, a local legend, who showed only animosity to his neighbors all
these lonely forty years as a hermit, goes to town to ask the local
preacher (Gerald McRaney) to plan his funeral but fails to make an
arrangement with the wary pastor. But the clean-cut young idealistic family man, Buddy (Lucas Black), the assistant to the struggling huckster
funeral director Frank Quinn (Bill Murray), overhears Bush's request at
church and goes with his boss to see the prospective client in his
secluded cabin in the woods.
It turns out Bush, flashing a
wad of money in front of the too eager to please funeral director,
wants to hold a funeral while he's still alive, but to make sure he can
get people to come he offers them financial reasons to attend (in the
form of a raffle). Bush tries
to convince a black preacher from Illinois, Charlie Jackson (Bill Cobbs), who he believes knows him best to tell
at his funeral the real story why he withdrew from life and he wants to
get up enough courage to ask his neighbors for forgiveness when they
hear his story.
The climactic scene has the
plain speaking Duvall at last tell us at his mock funeral the big
secret and reason for making a party out of his funeral (but the secret
revealed is a letdown and the unorthodox funeral arrangement might be
true but it never really helped the film except to give it some
seemingly artificial charm). But at last we learn the true story behind
the local legend and the pic is saved just as Bush finds redemption
through confession--proving great actors can at times elevate even
Sissy Spacek has a small part
as the widowed woman the Duvall character once dated but fled from her
without explaining why; her mere presence brings life to the flick when
it needed it most.
REVIEWED ON 9/11/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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