It’s time to look at an old movie based on an old novel which is based on a true story from a while ago. Naturally that means this review won’t have a score, but I will still dig into the movie. It’s one of those stories where it’s very hard to sympathize with the main character, at least with how he was depicted in the movie. They really make him an unbearable jerk the whole time and he makes so many wrong choices in a row that you figure he might as well be the villain. All right, lets jump in!
The movie starts off with Rick as a kid. He manages to get into a bar and watches Art play the Trumpet. Rick quickly realizes that this is the best instrument out there and decides to dedicate his life to it. He has a lot of ups and downs as the years go by since he likes to do his own thing. He’d rather play the wrong notes on purpose and get fired rather than do his job. Rick’s a free spirit who loves sabotaging himself. That’s when he finds the ultimate opportunity to do so. He currently has a great job with nice friends Smoke and Jo, as well as a good nightlife where he hangs out with his old friends. This all changes when Amy shows up and convinces Rick to throw it all away for her. She also forewarns him that she will destroy him much like she has destroyed everyone else who decided to have a fling with her. Rick accepts this challenge with a grin…and his life is quickly destroyed.
Whoops, that’s basically the whole film, but it’s hard to summarize that. See, Rick is one of those guys who has a lot of advantages in life. He’s a musical prodigy and he was in the right place at the right time often enough where he got a bunch of gigs. The problem is that he’s incredibly unlikable. He is quick to betray his friends for a girl that he literally just met. He then decides to marry her almost immediately because he has fallen for her so hard. After that he indirectly murders one of his old friends and it’s at this point that he finally realizes how Amy has changed him…and then gets into alcohol and falls further into despair.
Look, the film is trying to give Rick a big character redemption arc, but it’s way too late. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to turn back after murdering someone because such a redemption can happen, but the circumstances leading up to it and Rick’s actions afterwards just don’t work. He doesn’t show me any real signs that he will change. Even before Rick met Amy he had a lot of issues. There’s no reason why he needed to constantly rebel when on the job just so he could play what he wanted to. That’s simply being spoiled and entitled. If Rick had stuck to his job then none of this would have happened.
He also backstabs Art quite a lot in their final meeting. There’s absolutely no gratitude to the guy who saved his life and career many times. By the end when Rick goes to his funeral and picks up the Trumpet you want someone to slap it out of his hands. Imagine how disrespectful it would be for someone to walk up to a funeral and do that. Sure, nobody knows how he was involved in the accident, but it’s still annoying. That’s enough ranting on Rick, but I don’t have any sympathy for him because the guy knew what he was getting into and did it anyway. If you betray everyone for a stranger who loves twisting people, then that’s a choice you made.
Rick’s friends were good at least. As mentioned, Art was definitely solid. He was always around to help Rick whenever possible and really let him get a good start to his musical career. Smoke was a solid sidekick and someone that you could always count on. He’s definitely a solid guy and stuck by Rick the whole time. Jo was a good heroine as well. She’s not the most upfront person out there, but she meant well. One edge Amy has over Jo is that she’s a lot more direct. While it’s customary for the guy to approach the girl, if you really want someone you better make your feelings known or someone else will. Amy made her call while Jo held her tongue and ultimately it cost her. Still, at least Jo didn’t take it all that personally.
It’s a pretty small cast, but at the end of the day it’s not like you need a whole lot more characters than that. The film is able to tell a pretty complete story with just those guys. The writing is pretty solid with a lot of quick dialogue. It’s not quite as eloquent as some other titles, but it has that same atmosphere which is definitely important. The film’s pacing is also pretty good.
Overall, This is a pretty decent film, but one that is held back by Rick quite a lot. He’s just not a good character. He consistently makes the wrong calls and you almost wish all his friends had befriended someone else. They all would have been positive influences on each other. The ending’s a bit sudden so brace yourself for it, but I suppose the ending could have been a lot worse. If you want to see a film with a lot of Jazz music then this is your best bet. Jazz is always a fun style of music. You don’t hear it a whole lot in movies nowadays, but when it shows up it’s always pretty solid.