Get Low

January 22, 2015


To live a life without regrets is a dignified yet arduous excursion. Rarely does one face the future and make consistently good decisions which leave a jet trail in hindsight of what can only be measured as success and triumph. This is the base nature for the anxiety of moving forward and the ease of saturating oneself with living in inauthenticity versus staring into the abyss and make its meaningful.


Most painfully, however, there are times when decisions can never be fixed. What was broken is broken forever, leaving one to have to swim in its residue for the rest of their life. It is tragic to make a mistake out of one’s control and having to be reminded of one’s powerlessness daily. The old man played by Robert Duvall does just that, however. As an act of repentance as it were, more for his sake than anyone else’s, he condemns himself in an effort to control the sins he has committed. Eventually, as he becomes a legendary cantankerous hermit, he decides that the next phase in his catharsis is to humiliate himself in front of the rest of his early 20th century town.


I really enjoyed the customs on display, here on the verge of old 19th century living combined with electrical communications and motor cars. We get to taste a bygone life and the requisite morality it took to live in a world outside of automation. Even the simple act of keeping warm in the winter required manual subsistent upkeep, something completely foreign and taken for granted with today’s comfortable lifestyles. All to say, how people conducted themselves required much more duty and discipline than today, where empty souls can move ahead in this life where a century ago they would not be able to generate enough trust to reach a success passed their own porch.


The hermit Duvall plays ultimately is seeking to orchestrate a funeral party for him so he can attend and make peace with his past. It takes a tremendous amount of will power to be able to lower oneself at the level he does, as it is utter humiliation to have to admit to an atrocity in front of a throng of strangers he will need to rely upon the next time he ventures into town for groceries. Yet no one actually judges him as he washes his hands. They accept who he is and what he’s done. They almost gain respect for the man for being so forthright, until we see ultimately who joins him at his actual funeral. No one.


And that was the curse he cast for himself. He forwent building a legacy for himself because he ended a legacy of someone else’s. His was a sheer act of punishing discipline, a burden he volitionally imposed on himself to relax his guilty conscience. He created a living hell for himself as a way then to be right with the Lord. I wonder aloud how many people in this age have the sanctity to self-commit and sacrifice in an identical manner freely were they experiencing a need to rectify the sins of being free?


Grade: A-



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