Friday, 17 December 2010

A Few Words on Get Low

A little less than half way through Get Low we decisively establish that there’s a secret to be revealed. It doesn’t come as a significant surprise because we only assume that a man who’s planning his funeral has done something to precipitate such a bizarre act. It’s as such that the second half of the film has no choice but to wander around waiting for that inevitable reveal of what went down how many years ago. It’s to screenwriter Chris Provenzano’s credit, therefore, that what we end up with is not an turgid exposition filled one hour but a thoroughly enjoyable, occasionally humorous story that – clichéd as it sounds – is more about the journey than the destination. In the process of assessing the films I’ve watched thus far this year I noticed something, more obvious than ever – what we’ve gotten this year is not so much a strong showing of films that can be deemed as especially original thematically but a host of films that take a generally hackneyed structures and turn them into something surprisingly refreshing. True, Get Low doesn’t do much for freshness with an old plot as much as – say – Animal Kingdom, but I’m impressed at how the hermit with a heart of gold (or maybe silver) storyline that we’re promised ends up being something ultimately much more satisfying than that.
Schneider’s film is the sort of low key period piece, bathed in hues of earthy tones – I suppose they’re a bit too literal with the rustic nature of the town, but things like pretty art direction win me over (I’m easy). Yet,  “pretty” is the wrong word to use for the film, probably picturesque because it amuses me that despite its aim at finding that certain grunginess necessary for Felix in the film’s first act and a half it’s never that disgusting as characters like Beadles in Grey Gardens. Moreover, I’m not that floored by Robert Duvall as most seem to. He gives a fine performance, but I’m much more moved by Sissy Spacek’s quiet widow who continuously shows why she’s one of the premier actresses of any generation. It’s even more confounding that Bill Murray is being cited in peoples’ year end list when Lucas Black gives a much more impressive supporting performance – even if it’s a distinctly by-the-numbers one. Get Low uses the sometimes annoying calling-card, and it’s weird how it seems like a fantasy...not so much the story, but the execution. But, I don’t mind it...it’s never truly realistic but I find myself oddly charmed by its blatant fancifulness.
                   
B/B-

3 comments:

Fitz said...

You're the first person to not say something flattering about Duvall that I've read.

Nicholas Prigge said...

Really nice review. Interesting take. I think "blatant fancifulness" tells you all you need to know about this movie.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

don't get me wrong fitz he's very competent in the role, but considering the number of lead actors not getting recognised it's odd that he's something of a shoo-in. then, there's the fact that he's so obviously playing an archetype. there's only so much he can do.

nicholas i debated that final line, it sounded so harsh...but who am i kidding, i am.