Felix Bush (Duvall) is a notorious hermit who comes into town to order up a funeral party so that he may hear stories about himself. The only problem is that most people loathe the man based on his reputation alone. Those closer to him have a legitimate beef that goes back four decades to an event that looms like a mystery. What happened and how it left its mark on a rural community unfolds slowly – very slowly – as the movie builds to the eventual party.
Get Low is filled with wonderful performances, none more so than Duvall, who commands every scene he’s in with a combination of regret, resolve and curiosity. He’s simply amazing in this role and he deserved an Oscar nomination that never came. Spacek plays a long-ago love interest and she’s lovely in a turn that creates her own dance with Duvall’s character until a mid-point confrontation about what happened. Murray always seems like he’s appearing in his own movie and his apathy and droll comic timing makes the movie seem funnier than it really is.
First time director Schneider was a cinematographer first, which explains why the earthy designs and wide open vistas are so stunning and cinematic. It also explains why the movie loses steam about halfway in. The movie’s tragic flaw is a question posed to Duvall by Spacek. If he had simply answered her, the movie could have ended there. But by holding off on the answer until the bitter end, the finale isn’t nearly as emotional or cathartic as it could be.
Get Low means well but comes off like a Coen Brothers knockoff without the wit or style. Believe it or not, despite a powerful familiarity, Duvall and Spacek have only shared the screen once before, in the lame comedy Four Christmases. (Sony Classics)
— DENNIS WILLIS