EIFF 10: Get Low Review

By Stuart Wood 2010-06-28 14:42:46discussion comments
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Many festival movies fail to live up to their hype. Over-enthusiastic hyperbole-ridden brochure blurbs and high-level stars doing a favors for struggling film-makers with weak material can often leave disappointing end results. Thankfully Get Low breaks out of this mold and provides exactly what it says on the tin. Get Low features a top-brass cast in a Depression-era tragi-comic tale of gruff old hermit who rides in to town after 40 years and asks the local funeral directors to organize living funeral for him, where all are invited to have a good time and share the various urban legends they'd heard about him.

Get Low is proof that simply combining the right material with the right cast provides a great end result. This is a story about character rather than plot. As the tale slowly unfolds, it is top form Robert Duvall who centers the picture with his portrayal, by turns stern and funny, of a man who has lost touch with people, but not his humanity. Bouncing off him to hilarious effect, but careful not to overtake the picture or kill the drama aspectm is Bill Murray as the funeral director who, after a long dry spell of business, will do everything he can to retain this unique client.

Some might complain that the finale somehow cheats what came before. I can't help but feel that somehow misses the point. Just as the plot is secondary to the characters, the funeral isn't the point, it is the reason behind it that matters. This is a story about one man alone, in more ways that one. It is not about the townsfolk or the stories, it is about one man's story and his reconciling himself with his past actions and looking for understanding and forgiveness before it's too late.

Get Low provides a refreshing antidote to all the plot-heavy blockbusters of the multiplexes and the pretension filled try-too-hards of the indie circuit. It is a simple story, well told and excellently performed and who can complain about that?

For more coverage from the Edinburgh International Film Festival click here.
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