"Get Low" Movie Plot

by Goody Clairenstein

"Get Low" is a 2009 film directed by Aaron Schneider. Originally premiered at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival, "Get Low" is Schneider's directorial debut. The movie was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics for its widespread theatrical release. The movie is based loosely on true events and stars Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, Lucas Black, Gerald McRaney, Bill Cobbs, Lori Beth Edgeman, Andrea Powell, Rebecca Grant, Scott Cooper and Chandler Riggs.

Movie Opening

At the beginning of "Get Low," the audience is introduced to Felix Bush, a longtime resident of the unnamed rural town in the southern United States where the film is set. Felix is a hermit who lives in the woods on the outskirts of town, and he has a terrible reputation among the townspeople, who believe local legends that tell of Felix's murderous past. Children are frightened of Felix -- when a group of young boys dares another boy to throw a stone through Felix's window in the movie's opening scene, Felix comes charging out carrying a shotgun and corners the boy in his barn, where the boy vomits from fear. Felix lets him go and installs a "No Trespassing" sign to discourage further visitors. The town priest approaches Felix as he nails the sign into the ground and invites him to the funeral of one of the townspeople, but Felix refuses to go.

Plot Development

Felix does have a dark past, but the nature of his life story is misunderstood by the townspeople, who fear and resent him. The night after he installs his "No Trespassing" sign, Felix has nightmares and flashbacks that reveal a burning house and a woman trapped inside. When he awakens, he looks at a photograph by his bed showing the same woman who was trapped in the burning house. Felix decides his night vision was a premonition and ventures into town, where he describes his feeling that his life will soon end to the priest, and asks to make arrangements for his own funeral while he is still alive. The priest is resistant, but the directors of the local funeral parlor sense that money can be made from Felix's proposition, and plan to discuss it with him. After running afoul of Felix's "No Trespassing" sign, the funeral parlor directors manage to persuade him to work with them to arrange his funeral. Felix goes back into town with the funeral parlor directors and begins making arrangements for his funeral.

Spoilers

The funeral parlor directors decide to hold a raffle, offering tickets to townspeople in exchange for a chance to inherit Felix's land once he has died. Everyone buys a ticket and money flows into the funeral parlor business. One night, however, the funeral parlor is robbed, and one of the directors is knocked out by the robbers, but the money remains safely hidden. While making arrangements for his funeral, Felix is reacquainted with a woman named Mattie, and from their interactions it becomes clear that Mattie once admired Felix and Felix may have courted her. Felix describes to the townspeople that he wants to hear all the stories and legends that have been circulating about him, and reluctantly the funeral parlor directors tell him they heard he has killed a man. From a conversation Felix has with Mattie, the audience learns that Felix was in love with Mattie's sister, Mary Lee, who was married to a bad-tempered man. When her husband found out about the affair, he flew into a rage, delaying Mary Lee's arrival at her rendezvous with Felix, who grew concerned and went to her house. He found the house had been set on fire and Mary Lee's husband had beaten her severely. The house exploded and threw Felix outside, leaving Mary Lee trapped inside, where she died. Felix feels he is responsible for the death of the woman he loved, which is why he cannot bring himself to return Mattie's affections wholeheartedly.

Dénouement

Felix describes his dark history to the townspeople on the day of his funeral, at which he is present. He clears his name and is heartened by the support of Mattie, who he sees in the audience. A family wins the raffle, guaranteeing that they will receive Felix's estate once he dies. Felix finally feels at peace once he has unburdened himself of his tragic past, and he dies a few days later. The film ends with a scene showing Felix's burial, at which Mattie tosses a picture of her sister Mary Lee into Felix's grave, and leaves him to rest in peace.

About the Author

Goody Clairenstein has been a writer since 2004. She has sat on the editorial board of several non-academic journals and writes about creative writing, editing and languages. She has worked in professional publishing and news reporting in print and broadcast journalism. Her poems have appeared in "Small Craft Warnings." Clairenstein earned her Bachelor of Arts in European languages from Skidmore College.