MOVIES FEATURING central performances by elderly stars have a tendency to function less as narratives, and more as a chance to sit back and watch beloved performers do their thing one more time. Which is fine, if they're up to it.
Get Low is an amiable and rather unapologetic victory lap for Robert Duvall, who plays a crazy old hermit who returns from the woods after 30 years in order to organize and attend his own funeral. Director Aaron Schneider gets strong performances from his cast, including Lucas Black, Sissy Spacek, and a deadpan-even-for-him Bill Murray, but the main reason to watch is Duvall, who imbues his stock Snuffy Smith character with undercurrents of humor, pathos, and wounded menace.
The actor has played this kind of unhinged backwoods folksy before, most notably in the still astounding The Apostle, but he manages to find new facets here, lending a wobbly unpredictability to even the more rote narrative developments. Even during the Big Speech Where Lessons Are Learned at the End, Duvall throws in enough left-field strangeness—including an honest-to-god coyote yelp—to make the surrounding hokum go down easy. Don't polish up that lifetime achievement award quite yet; he ain't done.