Get Low - Slow burn storytelling of character organising own ‘living funeral’ (3 stars)

Get Low - Slow burn storytelling of character organising own ‘living funeral’

Get Low - Slow burn storytelling of character organising own ‘living funeral’

(PG) 103min
George W Bush aside, was there ever a greater master of malapropism than gifted American baseball player Yogi Berra? He once noted that: ‘You should always go to other people’s funerals; otherwise, they won’t come to yours.’ Round about the time Berra was picking up his first bat in the late 1930s, an old timer from Roane in the backwoods of Tennessee was organising his own ‘living funeral’. Or so the story goes.

It is to this wispy-haired tall tale that cinematographer Aaron Schneider turns for his serviceable but unsustained directorial debut. Returning to the Boo Radley role he played in his first outing for cinema in the 1962 version of To Kill a Mockingbird, Robert Duvall’s plays scary backwoodsman Felix Bush. With no friends and demonic reputation, Felix decides to stage a funeral while he is still alive to see who will turn up and what people will say about him. Undertaker Frank Quinn (Bill Murray in fine low key form) takes him through the preparations, but Felix’ belligerence becomes something else when old love Mattie (Sissy Spacek) resurfaces.

Get Low is a cobwebby tale of second chances, redneck values, arrowroot and blackened teeth. The performances are all terrific and Schneider’s laid-back direction and slow burn storytelling suits this gentle tale. Ultimately however, the film is too thin, unsurprising and hokey. The final epiphany feels as squeezed as dead bait, Oscar bait.

Selected release, Fri 21 Jan.

Get Low

  • 3 stars
  • 2009
  • USA
  • 101 min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Aaron Schneider
  • Cast: Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray, Lucas Black, Bill Cobbs

A cobwebby comic spin on a 1930s American folk tale. A small town is surprised when curmudgeonly recluse Felix (Duvall) arranges to hold his own funeral before his death to see who turns up. Terrific performances from Duvall and Spacek as his only friend Mattie, but a hokey piece of storytelling.


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