Sweet and Lowdown

Bomb Rating: 

This is probably Woody Allen's most disorienting film.

I saw this film at the Telluride Film Festival more than five months ago, so my attention to detail may be somewhat lacking. What I do know for sure is that Sean Penn plays Emmett Ray, the world's second greatest jazz guitarist in the 1920's and 1930's. While his guitar playing is great, his behavior is not. He's a womanizer and all-around obnoxious character whose idea of a good time is shooting rats.

From here, things begin getting a little hazy. Emmett meets a mute woman, Hattie (Samantha Morton), who leads him into a violent underworld where Emmett is introduced to an eccentric fight master, Woody (Woody Allen), who teaches him the rules of his club: "First rule of Woody: We don't talk about Woody." After discovering that he and Woody are the same person, Emmett marries Blanche (Uma Thurman), has a kid, and discovers many years later that he's unfulfilled. Consequently, he lifts weights, buys a muscle car, and tries to bed a young girl (which is the second rule of Woody).

After all this fails, Emmett is mysteriously chased by aggressive bats, takes a job as an ambulance driver, teaches ghetto children how to play his guitar, and tries to bring down the tobacco industry. When the Devil appears on earth, Emmett tries to beat him to death with his guitar. Eventually, distraught and with barely a penny to his name, Emmett moves to Ireland where he marries and mistreats a woman named Angela. Fortunately, in the end, Emmett's skull is smashed in when he's pummeled by frogs falling from the sky.

As you can see, this is probably Woody Allen's most disorienting film, assuming I'm recalling everything correctly. I'm pretty sure this is how it went. Either that, or Emmett just goes through his brief period of fame only to realize that he wished he had stayed with Hattie. I'm hoping it's not the latter option, because that one sounds dull as shit.

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