Despite all the activity, this is only my second review of the year so far. Get Low isn't bad at all, and it's helped me discover the hat I've always wanted - the homburg. So for that I am deeply grateful.
Get Low's concept is simple, rich, and immediately intriguing. In 1930s Tennessee, a small town is surprised when an old hermit (Robert Duvall) breaks his 40 year self-imposed exile to announce, quite oddly, that he is planning to hold his own funeral party while still alive. Everyone from the surrounding area is invited, and they are encouraged to share their various stories of this near-mythical local figure.
This setup alone speaks volumes, and hints at a narrative of some resonance, picking up on the transition between old and new America, the quirky, homespun folklore that made up its oral history, and the founding legends which define its identity. After all, that 40 year time period brought with it the popular rise of electricity, motor cars, telephones and radio, tools which would supplant the old traditions, and serve the United States well on its ascent to world power.
It's, sadly, an anticipation that Get Low, directed by debut feature filmmaker, Aaron Schneider, does not satisfy. Instead of playing on the stage of folk epic, like There Will Be Blood, we get a tale of tragedy and mystery.
Robert Duvall imbues the reclusive Felix Bush with a wonderful idiosyncrasy, as he at first revels in the hearsay that permeates the town. Yet, his manner belies deep-set emotional scars. The initial interest in the various stories and tall tales that have sprung up around his life (some say he killed a whole family, young children included. Some know no details, but are certain it was a horrible crime he committed), is soon replaced by the film pursuing the truth behind his mournful stare, giving the film a sort of gentle inevitability, replacing a larger sense of poetry with a more literal approach.
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