Friday, July 16, 2010

A Movie a Day, day 61: Get Low

I spent a few years in Knoxville, Tennessee, and I love Robert Duvall and Sissy Spacek, so I was eager to see Get Low in spite of a trailer that looked sappy and sanctimonious. Duvall plays Felix, an old coot who's been holed up in a log cabin in East Tennessee for decades. He's nursing a secret that half the people in the county, including his old girlfriend (Spacek), would love to hear. The twist is that Felix is planning his own funeral, which he wants to host while he's alive so he can hear the stories people have been making up about him. That's something I'd pay to see, though I didn't have to thanks to a press screening last night (it opens in two weeks).

Get Low wanders off and gets temporarily lost in a couple dead ends (is Felix really near death or not? What are his plans for that casket full of cash that he makes the funeral director keep for him?), but the story I just laid out, which you get from the trailer, is basically the whole movie. And it would have been plenty, if only I could have believed that these people would have behaved in that way.

Movies like this are all about authenticity. When they work, it's because they give you a guided tour of a closed world you'll probably never visit in life — and would never be allowed into even if you did. Mind you, I'm not claiming to be an expert on Tennessee's hill country just because I lived in its capital city for a few years: I came there a stranger and I left the same way. I'm just saying Get Low didn't ring true to me the way, say, Coal Miner's Daughter or Winter's Bone did. Read the rest on The House Next Door, Slant Magazine's blog.

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