News / Arts & Entertainment

Aging Man Plans Unusual Personal Funeral in 'Get Low'

Robert Duvall as Felix Bush
Robert Duvall as Felix Bush

Multimedia

Audio

Oscar winner Robert Duvall could be up for that top film award again for his portrayal of a crusty recluse in a quirky drama set in the American south during the Great Economic Depression of the 1930s. Here's a look at Get Low.



With his wildly overgrown beard and driving his mule-drawn wagon, Felix Bush is certainly noticed when, for the first time in decades, he comes to town and books a date at the local funeral parlor.

"You want to be at your funeral party alive?"

"Yes sir."

"But you can't have a funeral if you're not deceased."

"Hold on now. It's a detail. We can look at it."

Robert Duvall as Felix Bush
Robert Duvall as Felix Bush

The subject of much gossip and many whispered secrets, he has lived a solitary life on his farm; now, sensing he may soon Get Low (a old expression for dying), he wants to hear some of those legends before he reveals the true story.

"I want everybody to come who has got a story to tell about me."

"That probably covers about four counties."

"Then I want four counties' worth of people at the party."

"It's like a mystery in the town. People all have a different opinion of him," explains Robert Duvall, who stars as the mysterious hermit. The 79-year-old actor admits the character got under his skin.

"I like him a lot. You've got to like the people you play," he notes, "[and] I like Felix Bush. He's an interesting man and I thought about it a lot. I worked on it by thinking about it… ruminating, daydreaming - day and night - about him. Usually I just forget something when it's over, but it really stayed with me."

Left to Right: Robert Duvall as Felix Bush and Bill Murray as Frank Quinn.
Left to Right: Robert Duvall as Felix Bush and Bill Murray as Frank Quinn.

Bill Murray plays the funeral director anxious to keep the cantankerous customer satisfied. Well known for his broad comedy, Murray says this character's wry humor and somewhat shady past lets him give audiences something unexpected.

"You always want to try to surprise people with your rhythm," explains Murray,  "so you speak a certain way and then when people think something is going to happen you leave them enough time to become available for an answer that may not be the one they're expecting."

Left to Right: Sissy Spacek as Mattie Darrow and Robert Duvall as Felix Bush.
Left to Right: Sissy Spacek as Mattie Darrow and Robert Duvall as Felix Bush.

The cast also features Oscar winner Sissy Spacek as a woman from Felix's past.

"Oh for heaven's sake! A thousand years ago he was the most interesting man I'd ever met."


"There is a lot in the details in this movie," Spacek says. "It's about not so much what people are doing, but how they are doing it and their behavior."

Left to Right: Robert Duvall and Aaron Schneider
Left to Right: Robert Duvall and Aaron Schneider

Those details come from the seven-year effort that it took director Aaron Schneider to get his feature film debut before the cameras - a project that began with a true story from Tennessee.

"What actually did occur is this hermit in the mid-1930s rode into town on his mule - his only companion - and put together a funeral party while he was still alive," explains Schneider. "We did a little research. I actually went out to Tennessee and started asking questions like 'Why? Why do you think he would do this?' Just about everyone asked really didn't know. They ventured guesses, but nobody really knew: maybe vanity, maybe he had some secret… but nobody knew. So it started to become a mystery. The biggest part of development was the question why… why would somebody do something like this… and that is what we built the fiction on."

Get Low is the kind of smaller scale, independent film often described as "character-driven" (as opposed to the action-packed spectacles that dominate the box office charts). Schneider says the emphasis on character made the casting of screen veterans like Spacek and Duvall essential.

Left to Right: Robert Duvall as Felix Bush, Lucas Black as Buddy and Bill Cobbs as Rev. Charlie Jackson.
Left to Right: Robert Duvall as Felix Bush, Lucas Black as Buddy and Bill Cobbs as Rev. Charlie Jackson.

"It's a gentle page-turner," he says. "I like to call it the kind of story your grandfather would tell you around the fire or something and you have to cozy up to it. Before you can cozy up to any movie, you have to really feel for the people on screen. You have to get to know them as people. They have to be fully fleshed-out characters that are interesting to watch. So that's what we strived to create in the development of the screenplay. Then it was about making sure that we had actors that could do that, because not all of them can."

"It sounded like you said you want me to preach at your funeral party with you sitting there."

"Yes, sir."

"I've talked to God a lot about you over the years. He said he broke the mold when he made you. He said you sure are entertaining to watch, but way too much trouble."


Get Low also features character actor Bill Cobbs as a minister and life-long friend of the old recluse; and Lucas Black plays the young funeral home assistant who becomes personally involved in the search for the true story. The film was shot on location in rural Georgia, outside of Atlanta.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Los Angeles singer-songwriter Irene Diaz has a modern pop take on the jazz torch-song tradition. She sat down with Larry London on this edition of "Border Crossings" to perform and talk about her music.