Tribeca Film Festival 2010: Get Low

The New York premier of Get Low was received with overwhelming acceptance last night, and rightfully so. The mixture of solemn and comical tones, along with an all-star cast (Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, and Bill Murray), was a recipe for cinematic prominence. But with such prodigious ingredients, was first-time feature film director Aaron Schneider up for the task?

Fortunately, the rookie came out like a seasoned vet, conducting a charming story, filled with emotional twists and turns. Schneider’s strong suit was his ability to seamlessly string all the characters together. Despite being quite distinct, the cast had an undeniable chemistry throughout. Felix Bush (Robert Duvall) is originally perceived as an aged, grim hermit, who guards his privacy at the highest cost. In an attempt to gain forgiveness from the townspeople and those he cares about, he decides to throw a funeral party. With the help of money-hungry funeral home owner, Frank Quinn (Bill Murray), and his pretty boy sidekick, Buddy Robinson (Lucas Black), we are led on a journey of passion and wit. Juxtaposing the irritated temperament of Duvall with the artful jest of Murray, their two characters produce some unbelievably charming dialogues.

But just as things begin to look fine and dandy, the dark secrets of Bush’s life begin to unravel. With the reentry of the lovely Mattie Darrow (Sissy Spacek) and Rev. Charlie Jackson (Bill Cobbs) into Felix’s life, after 40-plus years, the audience can start to fathom why he would even consider a far-fetched idea like throwing his own funeral party–let alone living in the wilderness by himself for four decades. But finding out the story behind all these secrets for yourself is the real treat, so this is where I digress.

With Get Low, Schneider entered a zone where many filmmakers often fall short: by approaching the story with minimalist values and awe-inspiring aesthetics, he was able to blend a high level of tension and emotions, all the while diffusing scenes with comic relief without seeming feeble or melodramatic.