Low Down

Images express more than words in this beautiful biopic, about the gifted, heroin-addicted jazz pianist Joe Albany (John Hawkes) and his relationship with his teenage daughter Amy-Jo (Elle Fanning), who lived with him in his scuzzy apartment during the 1960s. Based on Amy-Jo’s memoir, the film is presented as a string of memories both bad and good, and it doesn’t adhere to a typical story structure, but the grainy Super-16 camerawork, intimately capturing sorrowful prison visits and hazy jam sessions in LA flophouses, more than makes up for the flimsy story, which often relies on addiction clichés. The cast lifts this up as well: Glenn Close plays Amy-Jo’s grandmother, a nurturing figure in a dingy milieu, and delivers one of her better recent performances, while Hawkes, who bears a striking resemblance to Albany, again proves he’s among our most dependable actors. Jeff Preiss directed.