Get Low (2009)
100 min - Drama | Mystery - October 2010 (Poland)
A movie spun out of equal parts folk tale, fable and real-life legend about the mysterious, 1930s Tennessee hermit who famously threw his own rollicking funeral party... while he was still alive.
Chris Provenzano (screenplay), C. Gaby Mitchell (screenplay), and 2 more credits »
Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek
No one really understands Felix Bush (Robert Duvall), who lives as a hermit deep in the woods. Rumors surround him, like how he might have killed in cold blood, and that he's in league with the devil. So the town is surprised when Felix shows up in town, demanding a "funeral party" for himself. Frank Quinn (Bill Murray), the owner of the local funeral parlor, sees an opportunity for some money, and agrees to let the townsfolk tell Felix Bush the stories they've heard about him. Also a lottery is organized, where people can win Bush's property. Many people buy a ticket. However, nobody wants to tell a story because people fear revenge from Bush.
Things get more complicated when an old mystery is remembered, involving a local widow named Mattie Darrow (Sissy Spacek), who was Bush's girlfriend in their youth, and her deceased sister, Mary Lee. With the help of a preacher who insists that Bush "tell her the truth," Bush recounts to those gathered at his funeral party and, particularly Mattie, about an incident 40 years ago. He reveals he had a relationship with Mattie's married sister, Mary Lee. He confessed to Mattie that it was Mary Lee who was his true love, his only love. They made plans to run away together, and when she didn't arrive at the agreed place, he went to her home to search for her. He discovered that her husband had attacked her with a hammer, knocking her out. The husband threw a kerosene lamp against a wall to set the house on fire and kill himself, the unconscious Mary Lee, and Bush. Bush freed himself from the attacking husband, but as his clothes caught fire, he also saw Mary Lee catch fire. As he went to put the fire out, he felt himself flying through the window, possibly pushed by the husband, and he was unable to re-enter the house to save Mary Lee.
Suffering from survivor's guilt and refusing to ask for forgiveness from God because he didn't feel God was the victim, Bush secreted himself away in the woods in order to "jail himself" for what he perceived as his role in Mary Lee's death: his affair with Mary Lee prompted the husband to murder her the night she was to escape and meet Bush. His self-imposed exile was designed to deny himself a wife, children, and a family.
Relieved at having told his tale, he knew he could "get low" (die) in peace. Mattie forgives him, and they bond over their shared loss. Bush dies shortly after his funeral party and smiles gently at the ghostly image of Mary Lee waiting for him down the lane.
"Get Low" is, in part, considered a psychological drama, it's also one of those films that can be classified as almost anything because the actors are able to add so many layers of interest with intrigue and comedy.
Starring an almost unrecognizably old Robert Duvall and a Jarmusch-styled Bill Murray, respectively, as a hermit wanting to host his own funeral and a funeral home director wanting his business. On the surface, it's a very slow drama because that is essentially all that happens, Murray helps Duvall plan his own funeral. But we are saved from a tedious drama by the actors' comedic timings. There's a lot of dry humour that I found myself laughing out-loud many times. The significance of the film is the psychology in its heart. Throughout, Duvall drops hints as to what his character is all about. You find yourself thinking about who he really is, and what he really means with every line he says. Robert Duvall just may be the best subtle actor.
"Get Low" is very stylized. Set in the 1920s, the director and cinematographer paid attention to the lighting, casting shadows where they wanted them, providing a dark atmosphere when needed to echo the times of the depression-era. I'll also call the humour stylized, it's dry, and it can take you a minute to make sure you got it right.
The one down-side is that the film-makers may have made it a bit too artsy and not accessible enough, because otherwise this could be up for every major award. At least we can rest assured that the Academy knows where to find Mr. Duvall.
psiche e cinema