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Sweet and Lowdown (1999)

7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 24,745 users   Metascore: 70/100
Reviews: 142 user | 114 critic | 33 from Metacritic.com

In the 1930s, fictional jazz guitarist Emmet Ray idolizes Django Reinhardt, faces gangsters and falls in love with a mute.

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Title: Sweet and Lowdown (1999)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Himself
Ben Duncan ...
Himself
...
A.J. Pickman
...
Boss
...
Ben
...
Ace - Pool Player
...
...
Hazel - Hooker #1
...
Iris - Hooker #2
Darryl Alan Reed ...
Don
...
Omer
...
Alvin (as Ron Cephas Jones)
Steve Bargonetti ...
Musician Friend
Benjamin Franklin Brown ...
Musician Friend
...
Harry
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Storyline

A comedic biopic focused on the life of fictional jazz guitarist Emmett Ray. Ray was an irresponsible, free-spending, arrogant, obnoxious, alcohol-abusing, miserable human being, who was also arguably the best guitarist in the world. We follow Ray's life: bouts of getting drunk, his bizzare hobbies of shooting rats and watching passing trains, his dreams of fame and fortune, his strange obsession with the better-known guitarist Django Reinhardt, and of course, playing his beautiful music. Written by Martin Lewison <mlewison@utk.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

jazz | train | rat | gangster | 1930s | See All (39) »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual content and some substance abuse | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 January 2000 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Woody Allen Fall Project 1998  »

Box Office

Budget:

$29,750,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$13,708 (Sweden) (29 September 2000)

Gross:

$13,708 (Sweden) (29 September 2000)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Mono)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Rosie O'Donnell was offered the role of Hattie. She turned it down due to her disdain for Allen's relationship with Soon-Yi Previn. See more »

Goofs

Emmett's guitar playing is completely mis-matched with what is heard on the soundtrack. He plays the wrong chords, doesn't position his hands properly for the chords he does play, and is often strumming when he should be plucking (and vice versa). See more »

Quotes

Blanche: [Monologue] Any woman would be second to his music. He wouldn't miss me any more than the woman he abruptly left. He could only feel pain for his music.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in This Filthy World (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Indiana (Back Home Again In)
(1917)
Written by Ballard MacDonald and James F. Hanley
Performed by Red Nichols
Courtesy of MCA Records
Under license from Universal Special Markets
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Wonderful
8 May 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

A slow, rich movie. Though it lags in places, the three lead performances are indelibly written in my memory. And the great jazz soundtrack and warm colors made this movie go down like a glass of bourbon.

Embodying the archetypal difficult genius, Emmet Ray is an almost cartoonishly dislikable guy. But Sean Penn keeps him just this side of sympathetic; we loathe his actions, we curse his self-destructiveness, and yet we're compelled to keep watching in the increasingly futile hope he'll turn himself around. His last scenes are heartrending.

As Hattie, Samantha Morton strikes a perfect, almost Chaplinesque, balance of comedy and tragedy. The line separating the two is razor-thin; she dances gracefully upon it. I could say more, but perhaps appropriately, it's difficult to find words that capture the beauty of her silent performance. Half the joy is in watching her reactions naturally unfold anyway.

Like Penn, Uma Thurman portrays a pretty unlikeable character. Her Blanche is overly intellectual, questions incessantly and is in some ways just as emotionally alienated as Emmett. Though her character is grating at first (particularly in contrast to Morton), Thurman does not shrink from the less flattering aspects of her character. It's a brave performance in a thankless role.

Woody Allen has constructed a thoughtful meditation on the nature of artistry. Not on celebrity -- we all know how that film turned out -- but on the rights and responsibilities of the true artist. Emmett, Hattie and Blanche represent the axis of artists, fans and critics respectively. As their relationships play out -- naturally, inexorably and poignantly -- the viewer gets a rare treat: a film that plucks at the mind and at the heart as gracefully as Emmett picking his guitar strings.


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