Monday, August 9, 2010

Film Review: Get Low

Note: In the original incantation of this review, I accidentally wrote how Robert Duvall had starred in Righteous Kill and Meet the Fockers when I had meant to write Robert DeNiro. My apologies; DeNiro, not Duvall, starred in those pieces of cinematic shit.

Get Low: D+

Get Low is one of those films that just sits there like a dead creature trapped and preserved in amber: momentarily beautiful and briefly compelling, but it remains very much a lifeless object. The film never seems to breath; it is merely an extension of handsomely composed scenes that leave you pondering why the hell this film had to get made at all. If anything, Get Low appears to be a lean 20 minute film that has ballooned into the bloated body of a 90 minute movie.

Based somewhat on a true story, the movie takes place in the 1930s and details the life of a man, Felix Bush (Robert Duvall), who wishes to "get low" and determines he wants a funeral party before he dies. Felix decides to invite everyone from the neighboring counties so they can come and share their stories about him, most of which would seem to be highly fictionalized accounts centered around the fact that Felix self-exiled himself 40 years before and created a hermetic life in the backwoods. Bill Murray and Lucas Black play the funeral director and his apprentice who acquiesce to Bush's funeral wishes, and Sissy Spacek plays a widow who has known Felix for years.

I'm not sure who to blame for this picture. Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray, Lucas Black, and Bill Cobb all deliver strong performances, but every character is thinly defined and evaporates once the film concludes. Each actor has his/her moments, but that's the problem; each piece doesn't lead to any significantly larger whole. For example, Duvall's character was good friends with Bill Cobb's preacher at one time. From a time period standpoint, this friendship that transcends racial barriers must have been an arduous struggle due to all the vitriol and hatred aimed towards African Americans especially in what appears to be the South. But we're never given anything to understand this element of the film, which shortchanges the entire relationship. So I blame director Aaron Schneider and the film's writers. This film has no momentum, which is a significant and sizable problem when you base an entire film around what amounts to one man's spiritual deliverance. When you finally learn about the secret the Bush has kept all these years, the reason he's secluded himself and developed the reputation that precedes him, the air completely leaks out and the film achieves complete ascepticism. It wasn't even much of a surprise, which I wouldn't have minded so much if the events prior to this climax developed characters, developed style, developed energy, humor, pathos, anything, you name it. But they don't. The whole film treats the secrecy of Bush's past like it's sacrosanct, when really it's simply mundane.

Basically, Get Low is a bore through and through. What a waste of talent. It's not like Bill Murray and Robert Duvall whore themselves out like Robert DeNiro and appear in a bunch of shit like Righteous Kill or Meet the Fockers. They're a bit more choice with their film selections. Unfortunately, this time they chose unwisely.

No comments:

Post a Comment