A Jazzman’s Blues Review

Tyler Perry isn’t known for period-piece films.  He’s pretty much known as Madea, his long-running comedy character. He’s garnered a lot of fan support which allowed him to create his own studio in Atlanta. He has written, directed, and produced his fair share of romantic dramas in and around the Atlanta area. Which are vastly different from his Madea films. A Jazzman’s Blues is much different than anything he’s down before. And it might be the best work of his career up to this point.

Bayou (Joshua Boone) is a young man who lives in the south in a dilapidated house with his mother, father, and brother. He is an embarrassment to his father and brother. His father is an abusive man to him and his mom and they force him to leave. He catches the eye of a local girl known as Leanne (Solea Pfeiffer) Her grandfather is abusive to her and her mother doesn’t like Bayou much either. So they pack up and leave for Boston. While there at school she meets a white man who brings her back to Hopewell, Georgia. Where she’s from but she’s a different woman now and she has to be careful about who she talks to and sees.

The film’s title implies that there is a musical aspect to it. Boone’s character’s mom owns a Juke Joint or Bar/Club. This is where songs like Let the Good Times Roll ring through the rafters. Eventually, the film evolves into a more musical-inspired story based on said title. Jazz and dancing are a prominent part of the film going forward. From Boone’s character’s father and brother playing the blues and him singing it brings the film to life. The musical aspects are the heart of the film with some of the more dramatic moments taking a backseat. There were plenty of them to speak of in the first hour of the movie. 

This film has a framing sequence that uses letters to Pheiffer’s character as a focal point in the overall story. This is where Boone’s character narrates his story. He still loves his teenage crush Leanne and these letters and narration show who he is and how his love for Phieffer’s character means the world to him. Chicago has a different vibe than the south foes but that doesn’t change the underlying disdain Boone’s character’s brother still has for him. The music is the main focus and he is the reason for their success. Singing songs like “It Don’t Mean a Thing” bring the house down.

Perry uses his distinct style to create this film with a period look to it. Many of the movie’s historical settings and production design are on point. He doesn’t miss a beat depicting this era in history. From the clothes, cars, hairstyles and even the way characters talk in this film. He brings the southern way to every scene. When the movie isn’t in the north. Pfeiffer’s decision to marry a white man who’s running for mayor and he’s the sheriff’s brother makes everything difficult for everyone involved. She can only fool them by making them think she is white instead of black for so long. It’s all going to come to a head eventually. It was bound to have a tragic ending with this subject matter.

Perry’s hands are all over fA Jazzman’s Blues. He infused it with everything that he does to make them distinctly his. His style jumps off of the screen. He finally has an opportunity to tell a story that truly means something to him and to his fans and a subsection of society that he tends to gear his films toward. Getting Netflix to buy this idea was the cherry on top of the cake. The music numbers, singing, and dancing were good to listen to but the main story of these two star-crossed lovers was the meat and potatoes of this film. The dramatic scenes were the precursor of these two characters, but that had to be in the movie to create dramatic tension. This story and film were well crafted all the way around. 

3 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

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