Get Low takes Depression-era Southern backwoods living and thrusts an irascible hermit (Robert Duvall) to the foreground. Duvall’s Felix Bush displays long, kind of mangy hair and a wiry beard, true to his hillbilly lifestyle (a look Duvall sported in The Gingerbread Man). Bush is as likely as not to lash out at the local townspeople, on the rare occasions when he comes to town.

It’s on one such trip that Bush approaches the undertaker (Bill Murray) with a proposal for a funeral ceremony for himself. Bush doesn’t want to die so much as bring everyone in the county together to hear what he has, finally after many years, to say. And he wants to hear what everyone else has to say, derogatory though it might be.

The party is on, so to speak, but there are obviously reasons for Bush coming out of his shell. The whole mood of Get Low involves generating a comic, almost whimsical tone over the serious situation at hand. To Get Low’s credit the film doesn’t resort to saccharin when past deeds are revealed nor does it go out of the way to make Bush likeable. The 1930s comes to life under the film’s polished direction, sets and cars. Duvall gets into his character’s skin to be sure and the rest of the cast, including Sissy Spacek and Lucas Black, as well as Murray, give convincing turns that feel true to the time. Get Low is as brilliantly realized as it’s subtly wise.

— Michael Bergeron