I realized that my previous post about Blue Like Jazz was mostly about how the film came about and only a bit of a review. I still think the post is worth a read (well, duh. ;]), but I wanted to write up a proper review as well.
The film follows a young Don Miller who has grown up in Texas as a Southern Baptist and is planning to attend a local Bible college. When the hypocrisy of a trusted leader in the church is revealed to him, he is understandably hurt and angered. He changes his plans and attends Reed College in Portland, in part because of his father's recommendation and in part because he wants to be far away from the situation. At Reed he distances himself from his faith and tries to fit in. He largely succeeds, but still deals with questions of whether God exists and what that means for him.
I think what I loved most about this film is that it is a relatable and believable story about dealing with a crisis of faith. Many, many people have experiences just like this, yet it is not a story ever really portrayed in film. There is a line in the book (and film) that says jazz music “doesn't resolve,” and that life can be the same way. The film portrays this well. The ending is not without some resolution, but it is not wrapped in a neat little bow, either.
The characters were great and all of the actors did a wonderful job. It is well-shot and the soundtrack is phenomenal. (Sidenote: check out the band Menomena, which is pronounced “Mahna Mahna.” Danny Seim from the band scored the film.) There are plenty of funny moments in the film, as well as thought-provoking moments.
Ultimately I think this film succeeds because it does not fall into a niche where only Christians will enjoy it. The film does not beat you over the head and preach at you. It is not a thinly veiled sermon. It's a story about coming to terms with what you believe in. This is a larger theme that everyone should be able to identify with. As Penny says in the film, “We're human. We're flawed. We all have our crap.”
You can find theaters playing Blue Like Jazz and buy tickets at www.bluelikejazzthemovie.com.
- A.V Club review
- Blue Like Jazz: Perfection without resolution
- A movie I saw: Blue Like Jazz
- Four Reasons Why You Shouldn’t See the Blue Like Jazz Movie