Sweet & Lowdown is a film, which showcases Allen’s obsession with Jazz music. It takes on a strange style which is a combination of documentary and half fictional story.
The main story follows the tribulations of the second greatest guitarist in the world Emmett Ray (Sean Penn). It is set in the 1930’s and although Ray is a fictional character much of the story follows around his obsession with real-life musician Django Reinhardt. Intermittently cut into this story are interviews with more current celebrities (including Allen himself) discussing the Ray as if he was a real person.
The film is well written and well-performed. Samantha Morton who plays a mute love-interest named Hattie standing out particularly well. It is also interesting in style as to be honest (not being a massive fan of 1930’s Jazz) I was always unsure whether it was a true story or not.
Many of the scenes reach towards farcicality however the serious scenes balance these out tremendously and give the film a great sort of momentum that keeps the viewer intrigued throughout. The characters are just eccentric enough to be deemed realistic caricatures for people at the time although do stray close to the line of ridiculous.
The style of film which is strange also messes with the tempo. The cuts back to interviews with Allen and others seem out of place and take away from the main story. I’m not entirely sure they are needed and exactly what they add to the story.
My other disappointment with this film is that it is not based on a true story and person. As discussed I was unsure the entire film whether it was a true tale exaggerated or entirely made up and towards the end I was wishing it to be true; however when I later found out it wasn’t the magicness of the story also dissipated. The events in retrospect seem forced together and don’t work as well as they could.
The film scores a relatively low 6 on the Allen scale.
An intriguing idea the film lacks a pizzazz that can allow it to be considered Allen’s greatest work. I therefore give it three Woodys, allowing a total of 6.