In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_zqamxwv5mxkk6w0xulw7pwsteof

Keanu

Keanu is fun, and even sometimes outright hilarious, but it doesn’t live up to the skills of its central performers.

Thumb_large_duksgz4wurypn9yyqplujgsjfrn

Ratchet & Clank

At some point, the movie has to rely on the things at which it previously poked fun.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives

Reviews

Get Low

Get Low Movie Review
  |  

We're asked to take Felix Bush on faith, and since he's played in "Get Low" by Robert Duvall, we must. Duvall is authentic right down to the bone, and lends his credibility to almost every character he plays. Felix requires a lot of credibility. He's a backwoods hermit with the kind of beard that suggests he took a box of Smith Brothers Cough Drops into the barber and said, "Give me one of those." He lives with a mule, a shotgun and his secrets.



The film opens with a murky scene of a farmhouse on fire and a man running away through the night. Who could this man be? Given the Law of Economy of Characters, it must be Felix, and therefore at the end the movie, he must account for this scene. Since Felix is an ornery rascal, it follows as the night the day that by the end, he will be downright amenable to folks. We don't require him to shave off his beard, but he obliges.

In the present (the 1930s), Felix learns of the death of an old friend, and this inspires him to make his own plans. He makes a rare visit to town to meet with the undertaker Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) and explain how he wants to "get low." He plans his burial plot, his stone, his farewell sendoff and even the designated speaker. He intends this all to happen now, while he's still alive and can enjoy getting the value for his money.

Frank, who is oleaginous even for a movie undertaker, has a fresh-faced young assistant, Buddy (Lucas Black), who has a wife and baby, and ends up as Felix's unofficial minder. Frank dreams up a real corker of a Getting Low party and thinks many of the townsfolk will come, and so Felix gets a new spring in his step. He meets for the first time in years Mattie Darrow (Sissy Spacek), who he used to be sweet on, and Frank even pulls Rev. Charlie Jackson (Bill Cobbs) out of his hat — or at least out of southern Illinois. The reverend may be the only man alive who knows what happened on that dark night of the farmhouse fire.

All leads up to the big day, during which hearts are healed, truths told, secrets revealed and misunderstandings set straight, and Felix delivers a speech he must have been rehearsing for years. The movie, which opened in an unexpected and intriguing way, has by now long since been on autopilot. That's where Duvall comes in — and Murray.

After you get to a certain point with an actor, you don't much care what he does, you just want to watch him doing it. So it is with Duvall and Murray. They've played versions of these characters not a million miles distant. Duvall is a sly old twinkler, and Murray would take the bills out of your billfold before screwing you in, explaining he doesn't want you to spend eternity with a bump under your butt.

All of this is just plain enjoyable. I liked it, but please don't make me say it's deeply moving or redemptive and uplifting. It's a genre piece for character actors is what it is, and that's an honorable thing for it to be. Perhaps Robert Duvall is the only man alive who could make his big speech here sound like the truth — and sincere. But he does.



Popular Blog Posts

427: Ten years without Jen, twenty-six with

Reflections on a marriage, and what came after.

A Deeper Look into Sam Mendes' "Spectre"

FFC Gerardo Valero reexamines the 2015 James Bond film "Spectre" after the dust has settled.

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

"The Hateful Eight" vs. "Pulp Fiction": The Devolution of Quentin Tarantino

FFC Gerardo Valero discusses the devolution of Quentin Tarantino by comparing The Hateful Eight to Pulp Fiction.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus