<em>Get Low</em>

Get Low

Get Low

Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, and Bill Murray star in a film written by Chris Provenzano, C. Gaby Mitchell, and Scott Seeke and directed by Aaron Schneider.

Whatever its values and demerits, noble intentions and hollow passages, the deliciously offbeat Get Low boasts one towering feature: finally, a distinctive role for the great Robert Duvall, that unique phenomenon in the history of American film acting. In this wonderful cinematic curio, unequal parts dark comedy, backwoods fable, and melancholic reflection, Duvall brings on his typical strength and subtlety, inhabiting the laconic, shotgun-toting odd bird Felix Bush, a grizzly recluse in a small rural town in Tennessee in the 1930s. Naturally, townsfolk have built up stories and fabrications about the hermit, but as a wiser head in town prevails, “Gossip is the Devil’s radio.” Old man Bush emerges from his self-imposed hermitage, heading into town with his mule and buggy in the dawning of the auto age, with a plot for a funeral party—while he’s still alive—ideas regarding clearing his name and, above all, achieving redemption.

But it’s the funeral party notion that piques the interest of the film’s storytellers and, within the tale, the work-hungry funeral director, played with pasty-faced deadpan charm by Bill Murray. We only gradually learn of Felix’s checkered past through an old lover (Sissy Spacek) and a cryptic elderly preacher (Bill Cobbs), but only in Duvall’s final, self-confessional oratory—alone, worth the price of admission—is the full story revealed.

While the film can’t seem to continually keep its—or our—focus, it has enough grit and warmth to draw us into its strange world, aided by righteous music from Jerry Douglas, getting ample cinematic mileage out of a few well-placed dobro notes. (Incidental note: Alison Krauss sings the touching “Lay My Burden Down,” written by Aoife O’Donovan, whose great band Crooked Still duded up the Lobero last Saturday).

Still and all, Get Low takes its place in the (unfortunately) slim ranks of Southern Gothic tales that have made it onto the big screen, including John Huston’s classic version of Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood and this year’s dark-horse indie film wonder Winter’s Bone. And with a presence as strong as Duvall in the picture, all eyes and spirits are duly engaged.

For showtimes, check the Independent's movie listings, here.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Iron Chef Caused State Street Pedestrian Death

Famous Chef Larry Forgione charged with misdemeanor for driving into Gilbert Ramirez on February 24.

Lavagnino’s Sudden Victory

5th District supervisor a shoo-in as filing window closes; Gregg Hart also unopposed for 2nd District.

One Half of Old Town Streets to Get Sidewalks

Walkways planned for one side of Goleta neighborhood streets; parking, lighting talks at community meeting March 22.

After Disaster in Montecito, Where Is All the Money Going?

Santa Barbara nonprofits account for millions spent on relief efforts.

Santa Barbara Experiences a Rainy March, but a Dry Year

Water year only 34 percent of normal for precipitation.