DVD: Get Low (PG)

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The Independent Culture

Aaron Schneider's Get Low is a low-key gem featuring suitably low-key performances from Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek.

This 1930s-set drama didn't receive a UK cinema release (no doubt bumped by a turgid Judd Apatow comedy), which is a pity as it's a lovingly made and affecting period piece. Duvall stars as Felix Bush, the "Hermit of Caleb County" (Duvall, of course, began his film career playing literature's most enduring hermit, Boo Radley, in To Kill a Mockingbird), an ornery recluse who has been "hiding" in a Tennessee shack for 40 years ("The first 38 years are the hardest," he quips), consumed with guilt over a lost love and a farmhouse fire. Bush hires a funeral parlour, run by Murray's hard-up and quietly desperate undertaker, Frank Quinn, to lay on a "living funeral party" – inviting the townsfolk to tell their own tall tales about him. Quinn and his earnest young apprentice, Buddy (Lucas Black), set about meeting his ever-demanding wishes.

Get Low has a whiff of a TV movie about it, but it's still a heck more engaging than most US dramas that are blessed with cinema releases. It's helped enormously by Duvall's potent performance. In fact, Get Low feels – much like Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino – like a fitting tribute/homage to all of Duvall's skills as an actor.

A somewhat solemn experience, but also gently amusing and moving.