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dir Aaron Schneider
scr Chris Provenzano, C Gaby Mitchell
prd David Gundlach, Dean Zanuck
with Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray, Lucas Black, Bill Cobbs, Gerald McRaney, Lori Beth Edgeman, Scott Cooper, Chandler Riggs, Andrea Powell, Blerim Destani, Kelly Finley
release US 30.Jul.10, UK 21.Jan.11
Final arrangements: Murray, Black and Duvall
TORONTO FILM FEST
SUNDANCE FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Not only is this film elegantly shot, with a gorgeous sense both of internal textures and wide-open spaces, but it also features knockout performances from an especially fine cast while exploring serious issues from a refreshingly low-key perspective.|
After the death of a friend, mysterious hermit Felix Bush (Duvall) decides it's time to get low, put his affairs in order. So he hires the local undertakers (Murray and Black) to throw a funeral party before he dies. While this will help him clear the air, it also undermines the dangerous reputation that's guaranteed his privacy for so long. It also means confronting a dear old friend Mattie (Spacek) about a dark event from their past. And more importantly, making peace with himself.
Director Schneider beautifully captures the quiet rhythms of this isolated town, where everyone knows each others' business and reputations are made or lost by a casual whisper. Duvall brings to Felix a haunted quality that goes far beneath the surface; we know he's not a bad guy even though everyone, including Felix himself, thinks he is. His interaction with Murray's hilarious opportunist is packed with sharp wit. And Spacek brings her usual luminosity along with some potent dramatic weight.
Through it all, Black is our surrogate, a likeably naive young man through whose eyes we experience the events. Cinematographer David Boyd gorgeously captures the textures--woodgrain, shafts of sunlight, crinkled skin. And the dialog, while subdued and sometimes oblique, is packed with tension and humour. Felix likes his reputation as a "crazy old nutter", and looks forward to finally putting his soul back in order.
As a tale of personal redemption, films don't get much more moving than this. Watching Felix come slowly back to life, including his sweet/tetchy interaction with Mattie, is a pure cinematic delight. We can vividly feel his struggle; we know what its like to have things we can't or won't talk about, and sometimes it's hard to know the difference since good and bad are generally all tangled up together. This isn't a film for audiences that like action or high energy, but it's a real thing of beauty.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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