The problem, you see, with real life is that it doesn’t lend itself all to well to being dramatised and things that can sometimes seem like a good idea or an interesting story aren’t actually either. That may be a little all inclusive compared to my usual open statements but whatever, who needs form?
A man planning his own funeral to attend whilst he’s still alive might sound like something completely fabricated, but this film is semi based on events which occurred in 1938 when Felix Breazeale planned and attended his own funeral along with about ten thousand other people. Unfortunately that’s about all there is to that story so obviously it’s needs a little more dramatisation and spice to keep it more interesting right? So what do we do in this case? We make Felix a hermit who everyone hates; although no one throughout the course of the film satisfactorily vocalises why, throw in a good deal of mortality, mix in some regret, throw in a dash of sentiment and round the whole thing off with a pinch of Bill Murray. A winning recipe? (might as well keep the metaphor going…) Not really.
Felix in this case is portrayed by Robert Duvall in his first major starring role for… well as long as I can remember anyway. He’s not an actor I have any particular inclination towards or against and in this instance he manages to lead the cast well enough, however much like Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart earlier in the year, this part seems a little too aligned to what I expect from Robert Duvall for him to actually do anything particularly interesting with it. Second billing goes to Bill Murray and, shock horror, he’s as Bill Murray as he ever is which, depending on your perspective will either be a good thing or a not so good thing. I’m no Bill Murray hater but I’m getting a little bored of him just doing more Bill Murray and not something else – the majority of the laughs early on are provided by him but in the latter portion of the film where the tone becomes a little more serious, he doesn’t really have all too much to do. The performances from the rest of the cast are decent enough but no one really does anything all too impressive.
That’s a statement which can be extended to the whole film in fact – nothing about this feature feels all too impressive and there really isn’t enough substance to justify its ninety minute plus runtime. The majority of the action deals with the logistics of organising a funeral which, in case you didn’t already know, are all really boring. When the funeral itself finally comes around, the revelations we’re given weren’t all too shocking and as soon as I realised that was all I was getting, I was counting down the minutes for the film to wrap itself up.
Yet another case then of something that was entirely watchable whilst it was running but left me devoid of anything afterwards – only in this case compared to other films this week, I enjoyed it a lot less during the screening. I’m sure plenty of people will watch and enjoy this movie – it certainly felt like one of the bigger releases of the festival – but if I were you, I’d probably give it a miss.