- Sweet and Lowdown review by Steve
Woody's last truly great film is a depression era fake comic documentary about a self destructive and egotistical shack-reared jazz guitarist (Sean Penn as Emmet Ray), tortured by being only the second best on his instrument in the world after his hero, Django Reinhardt.
Ray falls in with Hattie (Samantha Morton) a mute working class innocent, and Uma Thurman as a slumming rich girl thinking of turning Ray's demons into a novel. We follow Ray and Hattie from east coast to west, with his legacy discussed by a number of talking head jazz critics.
Sean Penn pulls off a small miracle keeping the mean and self-obsessed musician just the right side of sympathetic. The heart of the film though is Samantha Morton, whose silent rendition as the simple girl who suffers for her unconditional love for Ray is sensational.
The period atmosphere is strong, the script is exceptional and the jazz guitar music excellent (Penn mimes pretty well). But it's Morton's film all the way and her overwhelming, incorruptible dignity and decency breaks your heart. Perhaps the greatest silent performance I've ever seen.
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