Get Low (2009)
Robert Duvall, who recently turned eighty, gives a gracious performance as the ageing misanthropic hermit Felix Bush, a mysterious man living secluded in a forest cottage outside a rural Tennessee village in the 1930s. In this arch-independent production, we're subjected to cognizable discussions around moral and decency, as we slowly get to know Mr. Bush's peculiar nature through his surprising antics, among them arranging a funeral feast in advance for himself where he intends to reveal his dark secret. The story's eccentricity and the mystery surrounding Duvall's character ensure we retain our interest, and the film has an attractive and simple sincerity, but ultimately, the conclusion feels both a little too constructed and somewhat underdeveloped. Even if people in the beginning of the 20th century had another sense of ethics than we do today, as presented here, there seems to be an imbalance between the scale of Felix' secret and the depth of his suffering. Director Aaron Schneider desperately wants his protagonist to come off as something out of the ordinary, underlining his every peculiarity at chance, but whatever humanity the film has to offer mostly comes from Duvall and his co-performers, and only rarely from the plot.