Sweet and Lowdown

Sweet and Lowdown is not a new porn film rather it's the new Woody Allen film. Unlike his last few works, he is not the star of the film but he is in the film. Sweet and Lowdown is the episodic tale of the life of famous Jazz guitarist Emmet Ray. The film is basically a bunch of Jazz historians, experts and other knowledgeable people who tell what they know about Emmet Ray. It's as if someone's life is being told by "Unsolved Mysteries". You're not sure what's exactly true, but the story has some kind of basis.

 

Emmett (Sean Penn) is a loud mouth, showoff who claimed to be and is considered the 2nd greatest Jazz guitarist in the world. Like many musicians of his age, the 1930's, Emmet and his boys would travel from town to town and play shows trying to scrape by. Even with limited funds, Emmet still lives an extravagant lifestyle.

 

The stories that are told are humorous, distinct, tales of Mr. Ray's trails and tribulations with his music, his gambling, and mostly of his females. His ventures with the opposite are numerous and highly documented in the film. But he can't stick with the woman because as one of these woman (Uma Thurman) says "I would come second to his music." This is true. Coincidentally, her character was married to Ray for a limited amount of time.

 

The one woman that is focused on in the film as his "favorite" is a mute named (Haddy) played by Samantha Morton. At first, he can't take the muteness but he becomes accustomed to it. He treats her nicely but he always pushes her away staying away from any true romantic entanglements. When the relationships get too close, Ray says, he moves on and never looks back. Haddy becomes the exception to the rule. Even though he says he "needs no one", he really wanted Haddy.

 

The stories of this man are just so interesting and funny. He takes his dates to the garbage dump to shoot rats and then takes them to sit by trains. He has a macho bravado that just made me laugh. The only thing that penetrated this bravado is the mention of a French Gypsy named Jango Reinhardt. Reinhardt was the world's greatest Jazz guitarist and the only hole in ray's pomposity. Whenever Ray met Jango, he fainted. His superego could only put down by this one man. My favorite story is about Ray and a stop in a gas station. Ray was suspicious of his wife Blanche's activities so he followed her. When he gets into the car she goes into, he ends up at a gas station where he does one of three things. All of these scenarios are shown in the film as they were heard by the experts. These three scenarios are all completely different but equally hilarious.

 

I just loved this movie because of Penn. His swagger as Ray was just excellent. The way he played the guitar or acted as if he played the guitar was untouchable. I couldn't distinguish if he was really playing or not. Penn brought a great light into the soul of this jealous, lying drunkard. He is just amazing, a role that was truly made for him. I'm very thankful he didn't give up on acting, like he once stated; that would be a huge loss to the acting commmunity.

 

The rest of the film was good but but Penn sticks out as the apex of the film. The musical selections from this man's life were well chosen. The supporting cast was fine whether it was newcomer Samantha Moroton or indie staple Uma Thurman. I enjoyed the mixture of the expert commentary with the Allen's directorial storytelling. Allen tells his favorite tale along with the experts, at least he doesn't act in this one because there was no room for his usual nervous wreck character.

 

Rating: 3.5 out of 4/ 83 out of 100
Reviewed by Joe Soria
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Starring Sean Penn, Samantha Morton, Anthony LaPaglia,