Get Low Review (3.5 of 5)

‘Get Low’ is a period piece (the kind that the Academy Awards love)  and stars Robert Duvall as a man near the end of his life who pays a funeral home to give him a ‘funeral party’ where he attends the funeral while still alive.

Duvall has always proven to be a pretty good actor and he turns in the performance that you’d expect from him.

Bill Murray is a better actor than most give him credit for being, but whenever he appears in a ‘serious’ role there’s usually a few idiots in the audience who have a Pavlovian response to laugh at anything he says. Sure Bill Murray’s funny, but when him saying “Hello” does not warrant a big laugh. That aside, Murray imbues his character with the kind of quirkiness that he brings to his more serious roles.

Sissy Spaceck, like Duvall has been around for quite some time with reason. She’s a great actrress but has probably played a much more varied range of characters than Duvall has (see Carrie… See The Straight Story… see etc…). Here she plays an old friend of Duvall’s hermit, having not spoken to one another for some 40 years.

Lucas Black, who apparently only plays characters with a deep southern accent does a fine job playing a good man. Murray’s on the poster, but Black is a bigger player in the film. He plays a rarity in Hollywood films: a man who always tries to do the right thing. Black is probably the best in the film and  I think the story might’ve been a little stronger had it centered around him and his family a little more and in his relationship with the hermit. The story spreads itself unnecessarily at times to drum up  interest artificially.

There are suspicions by townsfolk that the old hermit has ulterior motives other than what he says, that he just wants people to show up and tell a story about him. He has a mysterious and troubled past and they fear he may be planning harm. This gave the movie a slight bit of doubt as to what his motives are. A slight bit.

From the movie’s opening scene of a burning house, it was obvious (at least to me) where the movie was headed. About a third of the way in I knew exactly how it would end up. There are a few little twists here and there, some of them that are extraneous, but it’s straightforward other than that.

The actors involved still manage to elevate this to still hold the audience’s interest. There is one scene that I was expecting to play as a larger scene that turns out to be nothing more than a footnote or afterthought in the film. It still had the resolution that you’ll expect, though.

It is one of those period films where everything looks authentic. You can almost feel how warm or cold the weather is to the actors by the scenery… the lighting… The way this was filmed was the way another film, last year’s ‘Public Enemies’, should have been shot.

If you’re a fan of these actors, you’ll probably enjoy the film like I did. The sum of all the parts just never adds up to what I thought that it would. The finale didn’t resonate with any kind of emotional currency. It ultimately falls a little flat… Not entirely, but a little.

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