Is there a proper way to do a comedic film about death without going completely farce? While you debate that point director Aaron Schneider (first feature film) went ahead and did it. This is more an odd type of funny rather than a straight out comedy, it is still a comedy nonetheless. Maybe it is the fact that it is based on a real event that makes it alright. Whatever the case Schneider has managed to make a film about this touchy subject that is funny and poignant at the same time.
His beloved wife died 40 years previous and as of that moment Felix Bush (Robert Duvall – The Godfather, Apocalypse Now) pretty much became a hermit. Guilt has been wracking him since and he now sees that his days are numbered, so he decides to throw himself a funeral without really being dead yet.
Felix goes to see funeral director Frank Quinn (Bill Murray – Zombieland, Groundhog Day) and his assistant Buddy (Lucas Black – Sling Blade, Jarhead) with his odd idea. As Caleb County, Tennessee has not exactly been a booming place for funeral parlors lately Frank and Buddy cannot really afford to turn Felix down. So the planning for the big event begins. Felix gets himself a new suit for the occasion. He has really come up with idea in order to hear the stories that the residents of his town have about their local hermit.
While the preparations for his funeral go on Felix reconnects with a preacher, Charlie (Bill Cobbs – Night at the Museum, The Bodyguard), and his old girlfriend, Mattie (Sissy Spacek – Carrie, In the Bedroom), who returns to town after the death of her husband. The meetings that Felix has with these two encourage him to unburden himself of the secret and resulting feelings of guilt he has had for years.
Get Low is the type of film that might pass us by except for the brilliant performances in it. It could be called Low Key instead of Low Down because not very much happens in the film until the climax/confession scene. That does not mean that the film is dull, though.
Set during the Great Depression, Robert Duvall handles the role of this complicated character with the skill and aplomb that only an actor of his talent and experience could. The eyes are said to be the window to a person’s soul and the eyes he gives his character Felix tell of all the hurt that this man carries around. Bill Murray is perfect as the funeral director who can also be seen as a con man, but due to his sadness you can’t but like/feel sorry for him.
Director Schneider also demonstrates a deft touch by keeping the pacing slow (read realistic) and the story simple (read honest). Also shows that you don’t really need a large budget to make a good picture. He trusts in his cast and is duly rewarded. In that he started his career as a cinematographer it is not really all that surprising that he supports his film with some great camerawork that adds plenty to the telling of the story.
The humour in the film is of the dry variety, but will still have you laughing out loud on the occasion. Adding layers of intrigue into the story was a wise choice as it makes the humour stand out that much more.
– The Deep South: Buried Secrets
-Getting Low: Getting Into Character
-A Screenwriter’s Point of View
-Cast & Crew Q&A
-On the Red Carpet