This review originally appeared on MyFilms during the 2010 EIFF. "Get Low" is given a cinema release from 21/1/11.
If I was a film-maker and I was going into see a studio executive with a pitch for a film there are certain things that would make me feel very confident about the meeting ending positively for me;
1) a good script
2) a great story
Those two things should be enough on their own but we all know the executive is looking at the Benjamins and not the Art.
Imagine though if I was able to go into the pitch with one and two as well as;
3) Robert Duvall.
4) Bill Murray.
5) Sissy Spacek
I would bet everything I had on the executive biting my hand off for my good script and great story on the back of a cast like that.
I mean seriously boys and girls we are talking about acting royalty here.
I would crawl naked over broken glass to see a film with even one of those people in it.
To get all three together is just...well, it's just too much.
You could get the three of these people to star in "Avatar" and it would elevate it from ridiculous, pompous, overblown, cynical cash cow, cinema misery to high art.
Let's look at the type of people we are talking about..."The Road", "The Godfather", "The Godfather Part II", "Sling Blade", "Lonesome Dove", "Apocalypse Now", "Ghostbusters", "Lost in Translation", "Rushmore", "The Royal Tenenbaums", "Broken Flowers", "Groundhog Day", "The Straight Story", "Carrie", "Badlands".
What a list.
When you throw in some of the most beautiful cinematography, a sizzling script and a story that practically bleeds honesty and purity of purpose from its heart then you have a film that deserves to be seen by anyone who has even a casual interest in cinema.
This was, without a doubt, one of the best films I have seen...not this year, not at the EIFF, not in the last few years, just one of the best films I have seen. It oozes class. It's a film that will take its place on "favourites" lists of everyone who sees it.
Duvall plays hermit and local legend Felix Bush, a man with no friends, no family and, apparently, no interest in either. When he comes into town to plan his own funeral with a bundle of dollar bills that could make a rich man jump for joy local funeral director Frank Quinn (Murray) grabs the opportunity to arrange the funeral despite knowing that Bush won't make that easy.
Bush wants to arrange his funeral with one difference...he will be in attendance. He wants to hear what everyone has to say about him, to hear the myriad stories and legends that have sprung up around him during his years of self imposed exile. As the plans take shape it becomes clear that something from the past is haunting Bush and that his real purpose in organising his funeral isn't the one he has presented to Quinn.
A touching and totally convincing relationship between Bush and Mattie Darrow (Spacek) lends emotional depth and deeper tones to a film that is already full of emotion and that has been constructed with love and affection by director Aaron Schneider. When the truth comes out it is achingly painful but also uplifting as we see the tortured soul of Bush freed from the shackles of what has been haunting him.
It isn't possible to say enough good things about a film like this.
Then go and see it again.
Then take a friend to see it.