Thursday, February 24, 2011

Get Low

Living in Kodiak sometimes you have to wait to watch movies until they come out on dvd. I have been waiting to see Get Low since I read a review of it last year. Still, it did not get a very wide distribution so many people may not have seen it. The producer and screen writer said it took years to get a company to back them so they could make it. It is a period piece set in small town Georgia in the early 1900s. It has no special effects, no digital backgrounds, no sex scenes and very little violence and most of the actors are old! I did not hear an "f" word in the whole film. It does have terrific acting (Robert Duvall at 80!, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek). Duvall makes the movie playing an old man ( which he is!) who has been a hermit for over 40 years. Since he has lived his whole life in one place there are lots of stories about him circulating around the country. Few of them good ones. He is hiding out from a secret in his past that very few know about. He is hiding from people and from God. Without spoiling the film, he is unable to forgive himself for an act in his past that he is ashamed of. So, he put himself in his own self made prison for 40 years. No relationships, no wife, no children, no grandchildren. His best friend is a mule (who is a great actor in her own right with the name Gracie!) His other best human friend is a preacher he told his story to but has not talked to in 40 years. Everyday he lived paying for what he did. Finally, the time comes for him to Get Low. He goes into town to talk to a preacher and then a funeral director. He wants to plan his funeral. Not for when he dies but for right now. He wants to hear the stories people will tell about him. He wants to tell his story if he can. As a viewer, you wonder if he is ready to ask for forgiveness - but there are only hints right up to the end.

It's a powerful story of redemption and reconciliation. It goes on my all time favorite list. Duvall is one of my favorite actors. But, as I think about this film I wonder how many people are like his character trapped in the prisons of their own making because they are unable to forgive or ask for forgiveness. I recall Lewis Smedes in his book on forgiveness saying that the person who cannot forgive or ask for forgiveness hurts himself most of all. This film could have been a story based on that theme. By the way, the soundtrack is excellent, too.