A notorious hillbilly hermit, Felix finally emerges from 40 years of isolation in the East Tennessee hills when he comes to town to organize his own funeral. Since this is the Great Depression, even death is not as profitable as it once was. So mortician Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) gleefully takes on Felix as a client.
The one stipulation, Felix insists, is that he has to be at the funeral party.
“Oh, you will be,” says Frank. But, Felix wants to be there alive and kicking. He’s particularly interested in hearing what people would be saying about him at his funeral.
Directed and edited by newcomer Aaron Schneider, “Get Low” sets up this quirky premise, starts to go for dark comedy, then descends into just darkness, when we discover that Felix has a deep dark secret. It’s been buried for four decades. The funeral is simply an excuse to expose it.
Based on the real-life legend of Felix Breazeale, the Chris Provenzano-C. Gaby Mitchell script is a potentially great parable which somehow gets lost in the slow-as-molasses storyline. Murray’s Frank introduces some comic sparks, which ignite a little levity in Felix, until he shaves off his ZZ-Top beard and almost woos an old flame, Mattie Darrow (Sissy Spacek). But his black soul keeps seeping back, threatening to undermine the before-death funeral fest.
A mysterious preacher, the Reverend Charlie Jackson (Bill Cobbs) is brought in. He seems to have the key to unlock the old geezer.
However, Frank and Felix have a tough time getting him involved, making the movie even more murky Holding it all together is the wizardry of one of America’s acting wonders, Robert Duvall. Fascinating in every moment, one can’t help but feeling the enormity of the loss when he actually does die.