Sweet and Lowdown - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Sweet and Lowdown Reviews

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March 12, 2017
Charming movie and absolutely well-acted. The movie is saturated with love for jazz. But it's a quite disappointment when after the film you discover that the main character is fictional.
½ May 31, 2016
" You know I'm the best guitarist in the world.... Well you know, except for that gypsy, Django Rainhardt." Sean Penn really nails it as the fictional 1930's jazz guitarist Emmett Ray. A lot of Woody Allen's films have this whimsical jazz score and in this film it really feels like a love letter written to this period in music, there are ample scenes of the band a Sean Penn just playing along with no dialogue. The film is easy and fun to watch. I think I am a closet romantic because I always fall for Allen's subtle study of relationships and love throughout his films. The most compelling one here is that of Emmett Ray and his mute girlfriend Hattie. She doesn't speak a word but there is such chemistry between them, and simple gestures that she makes in her face really pull at the heart strings. A great film for Woody Allen fans and a niche movie for those interested in jazz.
April 13, 2016
Sweet and Lowdown lacks Allen's customary sharp dialogues but makes it up for some solid acting from its cast led by Sean Penn.
½ April 5, 2016
Pretty engaging story and film. On rewatch it's actually pretty underrated, at least if you want to see a Woody/Penn film, with some Uma.
September 21, 2015
Woody Allen is totally typecast as a comedy actor/director. But in Sweet and Lowdown, its a more rounded effort, one part documentary and the rest is a biopic. They set up Emmet Ray as some sort of starving troubled and broken artist, but its Sean Penn who brings him to life. The movie is very interesting, with an emotional performance of Hattie from Samantha Morton. This all together makes for a very interesting and enjoyable biopic, with a great soundtrack.
August 2, 2015
An often overlooked Woody Allen film, "Sweet and Lowdown" may be a tribunal to a fictional musician, but its depiction of the rise and fall of musical stardom is as realistic as the movie is captivating.
April 6, 2015
A fun and whimsical Woody Allen movie with charming performances from Sean Penn, Samantha Morton, and Uma Thurman. Great costumes, music, and art direction.
February 23, 2015
Like Zelig before, Woody creates a fictional character, but treats his life's story like a documentary by adding expert interviews to bookend each act. He could have just promoted the greatness of an old jazz player, but instead Emmet is a completely despicable person. He is a boorish, selfish fool that exists as pure id, stealing an ashtray one minute and then casually discarding it the next. Like Inside Llewyn Davis the message is about the luck and ego of genius. We hold creative minds in high regard but even brilliant people can be awful; Love the art, not the artist. Which is what women do. The main throughline of this story is Emmet's romance with a mute girl named Hattie. She can hear the beauty of his guitar, and is too simple to realize how much of an ass he is. She's right for him of course, because both have the emotional maturity of a 12 year old. But as soon as she's good to him, he disappears.
Sean Penn is cartoonish but still superb as Emmett, showing the full range of emotions in this gifted man-child. That being said, it's very difficult to watch a swarthy jerk who is so putrid of a human being knowing that he'll never be redeemed or punished. Woody's nihilism tends to make unlikable people even more unforgivable and in the 3rd act he tells 3 differing versions of an ending to simply make the point how irrelevant an ending is to the story by saying "at least we have the music." Great acting, and well made, and one of the most beautiful soundtracks I've ever heard. Still...a feel-bad movie.
January 24, 2015
A very good sleeper. I don't recall any word of this one at all when it was originally released, but a masterful turn by noy only Penn but also Samantha Morton, who acted the whole movie without saying a word. It deserved its nominations, for sure.
½ January 20, 2015
Retomando el falso documental que hizo con Zeling, esta vez Woody homenajea al Jazz, narrando la historia de un virtuoso guitarrista interpretado acertadamente por Sean Penn, un poco mas de drama, pero siempre con su genial sentido del humor.
December 31, 2014
Once again he's back in the 20's, this time to explore the origins of swing music and the ideas of a wasted life and wasted chances. Smantha Morton was brilliant as Hattie
½ November 15, 2014
One of my fav Woody Allen flick, and a great performance by Sean Penn...
½ November 1, 2014
I really enjoyed this movie. Sean Penn really put in a brilliant performance along with the other actors who contributed into making this movie a great watch. Throughout the movie you see people telling there own stories about the talented Emmet Ray, including Woody Allen who had wrote and directed this movie extremely well. I hadn't heard of this talented guitarist before watching this film so I found this movie interesting and enjoyable. In the film, Emmet Ray was a completely different person when he was playing his guitar to when he was womanising and breaking hearts. Mixed with his outrageous spending habits and his addiction to stealing, there is enough drama throughout the movie to keep you entertained. The main shocking aspect to the film has to be Sean Penn's guitar playing. Woody Allen made a point of showing the audience that it was actually Sean Penn playing the guitar so I have to tip my hat to Penn for learning such a difficult, unique way of playing the instrument. Anyway, if you know of Emmet Ray then its definitely worth a watch and its also worth watching just for entertainment. Watchable!  

Emmet Ray really did have a weird and wonderful life. From dating a mute, falling into a house with loads of cash and marrying a lady who he didn't really know, he really lived each day as it comes. His random unpredictable lifestyle made everyone around him wonder if he would have been a better guitarist if he got his life together, but he never thought that he had a problem. He was a very cocky individual that had his head in the stars, which is why the concept for the film was so good. Sean Penn really did play his role well along with Samantha Morton who played the mute convincingly. The only thing is that you don't really know what truly happened in some of the scenes because his life was documented. People throughout the movie are using hearsay more than evidence about the mans life, which is made obvious when you hear there stories about the man. Anyway, enough said, watch the film.

Budget: N/A
Worldwide Gross: $4.2million

I recommend this movie to people who are into there Woody Allen movies which follows events in Emmet Rays life, who was a talented guitarist with personal issues. 7/10
Super Reviewer
April 23, 2014
Allen's homage to his jazz love was a little seen film but it is nonetheless very redeeming. Penn does his usual marvelous job. Worth revisiting.
April 18, 2014
Fabulous mockumentary from Woody Allen about a fictional jazz guitarist, Emmet Ray.
½ March 18, 2014
Sean Penn stars in this Woody Allen film that mixes a mockumentary framework with a regular dramatic portrayal of a fictional jazz guitarist that time forgot. Penn is pretty good, and the film looks nice and has a decent enough script..but it isn't Allen's best effort. Samantha Morton gives the best performance in the whole film without saying a word.
February 13, 2014
Really nice movie from Woody allen. Sean Penn plays one of the oddest roles I've seen him in as a talented jazz guitarist who is too wrapped up in himself. Samantha morton as the mute Hattie gives the film its heart. The style of the film is alright and highlights the craziness of Emmet's life and the jazz guitar score personally i loved
February 2, 2014
An odd movie but thats how I find all Woody Allen flicks. I usually don't like Woody but this one is watchable. I just think that the actors involved either overact or under act in it. Probably because they are trying too hard to impress the director or because he encourages bad performances. Hated the cut to commentary from Jazz afficionados throughout the movie.
½ January 25, 2014
Essentially a remake of "La Strada."
December 26, 2013
Sweet and Lowdown covers the life of a type of musical figure I am unfamiliar with, as he has a journey through life which covers a very complicated story.
The story in Sweet and Lowdown is decent because it touches on elements that musicians don't normally touch on, but also does explore a lot of basic territory which fails to contrast it from so many other musician drama films, except that this one is presented in a realistic manner like Warren Beatty's biographical epic Reds. The story just really doesn't carry the interesting heft of many films like it, and people not accustomed to director Woody Allen's brand of humour will find it strange and somewhat awkward. I'm still adjusting to it, and I didn't find it funny or all that charming either. His directorial work was good, but his script wasn't as clever or funny as many of his other ones, and the story isn't hat original.
The visual style of Sweet and Lowdown was good, because the footage maintains a strong visual experience with beautiful footage of old cars, trains and the waterfront of a pier all shot with fine cinematography, but that makes Sweet and Lowdown more memorable for its style than for its substance. I honestly found it to be largely repetitive with protagonist Emmet Ray just going through the same troubles again and again until he finally broke in the final scene. The final scene in the film is great, but there isn't really substantial interest building up to it so it's more effective than what comes before it. It's an odd experience, because it's a powerful climax matching insufficient buildup, and usually it's the other way around.
I don't know if Sweet and Lowdown is meant to be a satirical pseudo-biopic like This is Spinal Tap, but I failed to pick up on that and honestly just didn't feel entertained. I didn't feel the Woody Allen charm, and it just didn't get me or enthral me.
But I will say that Sweet and Lowdown gained the benefit of Sean Penn's fine lead performance. Maintaining a constant sense of visual sophistication and charm yet countering it with a sense of inner torment, Sean Penn finds the perfect balance to ensure that he portrays musician Emmet Ray with all the ideal spirit and charismatic energy, as well as the actual skill for playing guitar very finely. Sean Penn really has the soul of a musician in Sweet and Lowdown, and he does shine.
Samantha Morton also manages to supply a fine supporting performance as the mute Hattie by really convincing us that she is unable to speak and having a strong language in her physicality to back it up.
Uma Thurman and John Waters also manage to give fine performances.

So Sweet and Lowdown looks good and is well acted, but it's story is full and it's sense of humour is too odd.
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