Sunday, May 01, 2011

Get Low: Grade C


Get Low

Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, Lucas Black; Director Aaron Schneider.

You should see this movie because Duvall has never been better. The man is a master of the art of acting. He just possesses the screen whenever he is on it, even when most of his face is hidden by the long, ratty beard of the old hermit who is his character. And you should see the movie because Bill Murray is a great comic actor who does not need to tell jokes to get a laugh. All he needs to do is raise an eyebrow at the right moment, or toss an offhand remark. Put together Murray with Duvall, and you have an entertaining movie.

But that’s all there is. The rest of the actors do not perform well. Black in particular struggles unsuccessfully against something, maybe the director’s instructions? The story itself is exceptionally weak. The old hermit (Duvall) wants to throw a funeral party for himself, ostensibly so he can learn what people say about him. Funeral director Murray agrees to set it up, but then the old guy changes his mind after the invitations have already gone out. Anxiety follows, but predictably, the big event occurs, at which time, for reasons unclear, the old hermit reveals a dreadful family secret that does not amount to a hill of beans, but Sisssy Spacek cries, so it must be important. That is consistent with the poor writing that substitutes cheap sentimentality for characterization.

On the plus side (besides the great acting mentioned above), the bluegrass music is quite good and the costumes, sets and props for early 1930’s rural south are thoughtfully done, even though everything is brand new and shiny. But since the story line is so weak, the movie is, alas, instantly forgettable.

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