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Sweet and Lowdown - 1999
Accords et désaccords
Run Time: 95 minutes
Sweet and Lowdown tells the story of Emmet Ray, "the world's second greatest guitar player who ever lived." Emmet Ray is introduced at the beginning of the film by Woody Allen, amongst others, who confesses he has always been a huge fan of Ray's work and persona. Followed by jazz historians who explain how little is known about Emmet Ray's life. Considered a drama, the movie contains many comic Allen-style funny moments, and the ending is bittersweet.
The movie soundtrack contains lots of wonderful jazz music from the 1930's.
Woody Allen makes beautiful music but only fitful comedy with his story of "the second greatest guitar player in the world." Sean Penn plays Emmet Ray, an irresponsible, womanizing swing guitar player in Depression-era America who is guided by an ego almost as large as his talent. "I'm an artist, a truly great artist," he proclaims time and time again, and when he plays, soaring into a blissed-out world of pure melodic beauty, he proves it.
Samantha Morton almost steals the film as his mute girlfriend Hattie, a sweet Chaplinesque waif who loves him unconditionally, and Uma Thurman brings haughty moxie to her role as a slumming socialite and aspiring writer who's forever analyzing Emmet's peculiarities (like taking his dates to shoot rats at the city dump).
The vignettelike tales are interspersed with comments by jazz aficionados and critics, but this is less a Zelig-like mockumentary than an extension of the self-absorbed portraits of Deconstructing Harry and Celebrity. The lazy pace drags at times and the script runs dry between comic centerpieces--the film screams for more of Allen's playful invention--but there's a bittersweet tenderness and an affecting vulnerability that is missing from his other recent work.
Shot by Zhao Fei (The Emperor and the Assassin, Raise the Red Lantern), it's one of Allen's most gorgeous and colorful films in years, buoyed by toe-tapping music and Penn's gruffly charming performance.
--Sean Axmaker from Amazon.com
Budget: $29.750m (USA)
Gross:$4.196m (USA), UKP 441,831 (UK)
Release Date: September 4, 1999 (Telluride Film Festival), September 14, 1999 (Toronto Film Festival), December 3, 1999 (USA), January 26, 2000 (France), March 30, 2000 (Germany), June 7, 2000 (Belguim), June 9, 2000 (UK), August 25, 2000 (Denmark)