Robert Duvall plays Felix Bush, a man who decides to plan and attend his own funeral before his death. He’s been 40 years a hermit, and over time a collection of rumours have built up over him. He invites everyone who knows anything about him along to recount said rumours, and also has a story to tell of his own.
We focus almost entirely on the build-up to the main event, with the party itself only comprising the final few minutes of the film. This might give you an idea of the pace Schneider sets here; not too slow, but definitely ponderous.
The camera lingers on Duvall’s every move it seems, so its key that the central performance is top drawer. Bush is unpredictable but Duvall gives him an air of intrigue from the first frame. Things eventually come to light about his past but the performance alone tells us more than the script ever does. It’s odd that he was snubbed at the Oscars for this one.
This is a story that makes its own points about mortality, how we remember the past and how best to cope with our mistakes. Get Low asks questions rather than trying to answer them, and the screenplay doesn’t work too hard to get us on board.
The final act is a little odd and ends the film on a strange, perhaps disappointing note. However, Get Low is one of Duvall’s best performances in a long time and one definitely worth taking the time to watch. That coupled with a novel, well executed concept and some strong supporting roles makes this an under-hyped, already-forgotten gem.