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Get Low: movie review

In 'Get Low,' a poignant, superbly acted gem, Robert Duvall plays a recluse who throws a party during the Depression.

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Scene: Bill Murray as plays Frank Quinn in the movie 'Get Low.'

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

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With his long, stringy mountain-man beard and unblinking stare, Robert Duvall’s Felix Bush is not a man to be trifled with. Living hermitlike in the Tennessee backwoods in the depths of the Depression, he totes a shotgun and welcomes guests on his property with the sign: “No damn trespassing. Beware of mule.”

“Get Low,” the first feature of director Aaron Schneider, tells the story of how Felix, after 40 years as a recluse, arranges with Frank Quinn (Bill Murray), the local funeral parlor proprietor, to stage his own funeral while he’s still alive and able to hear what everybody will say about him.

It’s a common fantasy, of course. But why would Felix, who clearly despises the townsfolk, want to put himself through it?

The answer, when it comes, is a bit soppy, but it all works because Duvall’s Felix has a lived-in authenticity and a poignancy. This tough old bird can get away with being a sentimental old coot because we already know he doesn’t give up his secrets lightly.

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