Most times, as the cliché goes, the journey is just as important as the destination. These true words perfectly suit Get Low, a Robert Duvall and Bill Murray flick helmed by first-timer Aaron Schneider.
Duvall plays Felix Bush, a self-imposed hermit living out a self-imposed penance for a personal crime committed some 40 years back. Felix is nearing the end of his life and finally becomes curious at what the townsfolk think of him. Bill Murray and type-cast good ole boy Lucas Black play funeral directors who decide to help Felix throw a funeral while he’s still alive. Those in attendance get to enter a raffle to win his incredible parcel of land. What happens, as Felix prepares for death, is his acceptance of life.
Duvall is a master at playing quiet, contemplative figures allowing his body language and facial expressions to tell the eloquent story of the script. Get Low, as Open Range and The Apostle did before, provides plenty of those quiet, introspective moments allowing the audience to see the pain of the character and wonder at his thoughts.
Murray, unfortunately, is rarely allowed to truly get going as the off-beat comedic genius he is (Wes Anderson, it appears, is the only current filmmaker that can give Murray full control of the open throttle). Much of the movie’s comedy is attributed to him, but the character’s secondary role to that of Duvall cannot shine as bright as it ought to. Also, for a film where stories are to be told of the not-quite-deceased, not many are told. Save Felix’s own. But perhaps that’s enough.
Get Low is a good story and a great character piece; moving and, perhaps, even redemptive, but not in a prime-time Disney-fied way. Instead, Duvall gets to say his… peace. After all, before one can soar high, one must get low.