Get Low Film Review

30 Aug

I’ve let this film simmer in the back of my head since I saw it with Troy and Nicole on Saturday.  When I came into the theater, I did not have very high expectations nor low expectations.  I figured this would be an average film that would entertain but not wow.

The film follows Felix Bush as he nears death and decides to throw a funeral for himself… while he’s still alive.  Along the way, he wrestles with the demons of his past that have forced him into living life as a hermit for 40 years.

I suppose the most immediate thing I noticed is that the acting in this film is above par.  Robert Duvall plays a stick-to-his-guns man with a mystery in the character of Felix Bush.  Obviously, this is the most captivating performance and holds the film together.  You’re never quite sure what is running through the character’s mind at any moment except that he doesn’t take bullshit.  His soliloquy at the end may end up nabbing him an Oscar nod.  It is both moving and subjective.

Bill Murray’s Frank Quinn acts as the near opposite of Felix.  He seeks his opportunity to capitalize on Felix’s half-death.  He is, at times, a very loyal man, but he’s also almost always working an angle.  Murray has mastered the feat of hinting at subtle humor in small facial gestures and light tonality changes.  He provides an excellent mirror to Felix’s character.

Lucas Black also puts in a good performance as Frank Quinn’s assistant at the funeral home.  He seems to be the one closest to unraveling the enigma that is Felix Bush.  However, at times, I didn’t feel like he was completely there while others felt like he was giving it all (in a good way).

The film brings up some interesting ideas and ways of living.  One thing to remember throughout is what the tagline states, “A True Tall Tale.”  The phrase contradicts itself.  While the audience is lead to believe that the stories told within the film are true through subjective points of view and flashbacks, it is important to keep in mind that truth may not be what it seems to be.

In a similar vein, it is interesting to note Bill Cobb’s Reverend Charlie Jackson.  Here is a black preacher in a position of authority (the only man Felix Bush seems to trust) under the setting of sometime in the 20s-30s.  No mention or note is brought to his blackness.  In this sense, the film fictionalizes the setting of Tennessee where, in that time period, Charlie Jackson would not be in such a position of power.  I enjoy that the film takes this stance.  It moves the film further from the truth, but I do not believe it is idealizing history for the sake of being politically correct for modern times.  I believe the film uses this tweak to history to its advantage, and it pays off.

Overall, I believe that the film ultimately suffers from lackluster cinematography.  No shots really wow.  In fact, it was easy to predict what shot would be used during each scene.  The film presents very interesting ideas about truth and fiction with great performances, but it suffers from the technical work of filmmaking.

I would like to inch towards 4 stars, but my mind keeps on coming back to 3.5.

NOTE: Since making this review, I learned that the movie is loosely based after a true story.  I believe this just throws in a whole other layer of complexity to this intriguing story.

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