The Film (3/5)
I didn't know what to expect when I popped the Sweet Life into my DVD player. The minimal research I did prior to watching said it was a romantic comedy, featuring Joan Jett (a plus), co-written by the producer of Street Trash Roy Frumkes (another plus), and was considered a romantic comedy for people who hated romantic comedies (a huge plus). I don't often go into movies knowing so little about them, especially with these days, so I was happy to just be seeing a film blind.
So the Sweet Life is definitely a film that falls into the romantic comedy territory. I wouldn't go so far to call it an anti-romantic comedy, it definitely has the look and feel of an indie film romantic comedy, so this is definitely familiar territory. The much touted Joan Jett performance is limited to about 5 minutes of screen time, and really is so bad you don't want any more.
The story is pretty basic, it tells the story of film magazine editor Michael (James Lorinz, Frankenhooker), who is a down on his luck sort, who can't seem to find the good steady relationship he so desires. This is in direct contrast to his twice divorced playboy brother Frankie, who can seemingly got anyone he wants. Right now, Frankie is interested in Lila a local fun loving bartender, and they start having a relationship until Lila confesses that she is falling hard for him. This occurs on the same night, that they set Michael on a disastrous blind date with Sherry, Lila's roommate, played by Joan Jett. After uncuffing Michael from Sherry's bed, they spend the night getting to know each other, sparks develop, and they begin to date.
Unfortunately, for the both of them opposites do not really attract, and that's what these 2 truly are. Michael is a self-important film fan, and Lila is a fun loving party girl. Sometimes these things work, but with these 2 there is absolutely no middle ground, and so when Frankie forces himself back into the picture, it's no great loss, or great surprise.
And that is the problem with the Sweet Life this is a film that has been seen before, with a better story, better characters, and better acting. Yeah, it was great seeing what James Lorinz has been up to since Frankenhooker, and really it's only his presence that really makes the film. His character offers the only consistency in the entire film. The story itself doesn't really go anywhere, and the characters pretty much end up in the same place where they begin, no development, whatsoever.
The film also has a very low budget DV look to it. There are a lot of exteriors, and night shots that overall look fine, but interiors are for the most part over lit. The editing in the film is also extremely abrupt, and doe not really help the film flow well from one scene to the next.
So you might be wondering, why the Hell are you giving this movie 3 stars if you can't write anything good about it? The dialogue. The dialogue in this movie, is fresh and funny, sharp and witty. While the film may look and feel cheap, the dialogue helps elevate this film to a whole other level, and while it can't fix what is broken it makes the film very enjoyable. So what do I have to say, watch The Sweet Life, ignore the bad editing, the DV look the lack of story, and character development, but be prepared to have a pretty good laugh.
Synapse Films have presented The Sweet Life in the films original 1:85:1 theatrical aspect ratio. The transfer itself accurately depicts the source material which is either DV, or low grade HD. It's a very overly lit, bright film, there are some minor artifacting, but like I said most of this is from the source. Overall, a serviceable transfer that reflects the actual look of the film. The audio track is a English Dolby Digital 2.0 track, which once again does the trick, but not much more. The dialogue and music are mixed well, and there are no noticable audio defects that I could pick up on during my viewing.
Synapse have put together a nice little slate of extras for their release of The Sweet Life. The disc kicks off with a commentary track with director Rocco Simonelli, and actors James Lorinz, and Barbara Sicuranza. This is followed up by a short making of documentary called "Making of the Sweet Life." The disc is rounded off by a selection of deleted and extended scenes. There are also some outtakes, and a theatrical trailer.
Not a good movie in a conventional sense, the Sweet Life overcomes it's technical limitations with great dialogue, and a good lead performance by Frankenhooker's James Lorinz. This film comes recommended.