Get Low, based on a simple, yet true story, set in Tennessee in 1938, asks the viewer to come on the final journey with a man who has held a secret for 40 years and is ready to have it revealed before he dies. This quirky little Independent film opens with a burning house and a shadowy figure fleeing the scene. Was this arson? Was this the scene of a murder? What’s the story behind this tragedy? By the end of the film, all these questions will be answered, and more unanswered questions will have been asked.
Robert Duvall Heads Strong Cast
It is a particularly strong cast, headed by Robert Duvall, that makes this film memorable. Duvall has a reputation for his ability to transform himself into whatever character he portrays. This time the brilliance of his performance comes largely from what he doesn’t say throughout most of the film. Viewers will ask themselves, why has this guy been such a recluse for all these years? What did he do? Why does he shun all human contact? Is he a serial killer? Is he a monster?
As the film unfolds the audience begins to see that Felix Bush isn’t a bad man, merely a loner who has generated numerous stories that need telling – whether they are true or not. He has a picture of a mysterious woman on the wall of his sparsely decorated log cabin – someone from his past that he still loves. Slowly, he begins to elicit sympathy and to build a connection with the director of the local funeral home and his apprentice, as well as his viewers.
Sissy Spacek Fine Supporting Role
Enter Mattie Darrow (Sissy Spacek) as another mysterious woman from Felix’s past. Sissy Spacek is a consummate actress who brings a first-class performance to anything she’s been involved with. It’s obvious that there was a history between Mattie and Felix, the audience has to be patient in order to find out what happened and why they have been apart for so long.
As the movie proceeds at a realistically slow pace, the viewer will find that the drama lies in the understated emotions that lie beneath the surface and need to be coaxed out by the impending funeral party that Felix is planning for himself. If the viewer wants action, Get Low is not the right film. Some people have called this picture boring. Not much actually happens in this film, but that’s because the turmoil is inside the actors and thus elicited from inside the viewer as well. The drama comes from the mystery. The film keeps its viewers asking, what was so terrible – which is what happens when people keep secrets. It’s the not-knowing that causes much of human suffering.
Taking Care of Business
The title of the film – Get Low – is cryptic. It turns out that to “get low” means “to tend to business.” In other words, to get a person’s affairs in order, in this case – the preparation for a funeral – before the main character’s death. This concept poses an interesting question for all those who are facing imminent death: how do we want to leave this world? Traditional funerals are meant for the loved ones left behind, not the deceased. Don’t most people want to know how people really feel about them, as reflected in what is said at their funeral? If so, a pre-funeral party is a very interesting way to honor the dying. In the case of the film, there was a compelling emotional story that needed telling before Felix could achieve catharsis and resolution. After all, isn’t closure what all humans want before they die?
Get Low, while ultimately serious, philosophical, and somber in tone, has a few lighter moments, as the viewer takes a look at the strange, sad life of a rural hermit in the 1930s. The tone of the film is just right and the acting very strong – including the supporting roles: Bill Murray (funeral director Frank Quinn) Lucas Black (his trainee, Buddy), and Bill Cobb (preacher, Charlie). Is this a depressing film? Not really – the mystery is solved and Felix dies at peace, which leaves the audience feeling that indeed there is room for emotional growth and ultimate forgiveness.