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Get Low

Featuring Academy Award winners Robert Duvall and Sissy Spacek

Loosely based on a real-life incident that has long been recounted as legend, Get Low introduces Felix (Robert Duvall) as a taciturn eccentric who, for nearly 40 years, has sternly guarded his privacy while living alone in the woods. Rumours about his violent past abound, and he lends credibility to those accounts by brandishing (and occasionally firing) a shotgun when unwelcome guests ignore the sign on the road to his property: ‘No damn trespassing. Beware of mule.’ One fateful day, however, Felix hitches that mule to his wagon and rides into town, where he approaches the local reverend (Gerald McRaney) to ‘get low’ – that is, get down to business – regarding plans for a memorial service. Specifically, he wants to preside at his own funeral – to hear what folks in town and from surrounding areas have to say, good or (mostly) bad, about him – before he actually dies. Not surprisingly, the reverend rejects the request. But Frank Quinn (Bill Murray), the cynical proprietor of a failing funeral parlour, has no qualms whatsoever about accepting Felix as a customer. Aided by his assistant, Buddy Robinson (Lucas Black), an eager young family man who mutes his own misgivings about the enterprise, Frank plots to put the ‘party’ back into ‘funeral party’ by attracting a large crowd of storytellers for Felix’s farewell appearance. To ensure a huge turnout, he proposes selling raffle tickets – and rewarding one lucky attendee with the deed to Felix’s property (effective, of course, after the hermit’s death). The frosty old fellow warms up a bit when reunited with two people from his past: Mattie Darrow (Sissy Spacek), a sweet-natured widow Felix briefly dated decades ago, and Rev. Charlie Jackson (Bill Cobbs), who remains mum when asked about the particulars of his relationship with Felix. But the film only gradually reveals the method behind Felix’s seeming madness, suggesting that anything anyone might say about the hermit at his funeral can’t possibly be worse than Felix’s own testimony about himself. At heart a tale of forgiveness and redemption, Get Low manages the difficult feat of being at once understated and vigorous in its confident storytelling. The dialogue is peppered with choice bits of droll humour, and Murray – smooth and subtle in a showcase role – lays claim to many of them. Indeed, the movie is most appealing during scenes in which Murray’s deadpan wit plays off Duvall’s dour irascibility, and both actors effortlessly bring out the best in each other. If Murray seems just a tad overmatched, that’s entirely appropriate for the relationship between their characters. ‘Is it just me,’ Frank asks his assistant after losing at wordplay with Felix, ‘or is he extremely articulate when he wants to be?’ Duvall’s more emotionally charged scenes with Spacek and Cobbs are low-key yet powerful, and director Aaron Schneider wisely refrains from overemphasizing the obvious with intrusive music or flashy technique. Straightforward simplicity is the defining trait of the film as a whole, reflected in the evocative bluegrass-flavored score by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek. Get Low obviously is a labour of love for all involved, but it never resorts to undue yanking on heartstrings. – Joe Leydon, Variety Official Trailer
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Directed by: 
Aaron Schneider
Running Time: 
Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray, Lucas Black, Gerald McRaney
Screenplay by: 
Aaron Schneider, C. Gaby Mitchell, Chris Provenzano

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