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A Jazzman’s Blues—forbidden love in the US Deep South

This article is over 1 years, 3 months old
Pretty cinematography and a great soundtrack make for a rewarding film, despite some storytelling weaknesses, writes Charlotte Goodwin
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Three women stand behind three blues musicians in a still from the film A Jazzman's Blues

Blues, pretty cinematography—and a story decades in the making, in The Jazzman’s Blues

A Jazzman’s Blues is about blues and forbidden love in the US Deep South. It has a wonderful soundtrack and it looks very good, from wide fields to crowded cities.

It’s also very entertaining. Some of the performances that are perhaps slightly over dramatic, but that only adds to the experience.

Main character Bayou is put through a lot by his own stepfather and by the deeply embedded racism of the sheriff and his family. The story, spanning 40 years, covers a lot of familial and racial issues that most of the characters face.

The pacing could be improved. But you don’t stop rooting for Bayou to succeed in spite of his forbidden romance and the constant discrimination he faces.

A Jazzman’s Blues also addresses internalised racism. Bayou’s own stepfather and brother mock him for his skin tone, while his romantic interest Leanne disguises herself as white.

This theme could have been developed further, and definitely have been better executed. But it does take you through Bayou’s struggles and Leanne’s heartbreak.

A Jazzman’s Blues has been a long time coming. Tyler Perry actually wrote the script for this in the mid 90s, and the film does feel like a passion project. There is an unexpected twist at the end, which is refreshing as I genuinely didn’t see it coming.

It’s incredibly sentimental and emotional, with great sets and natural comedy. A Jazzman’s Blues is as serious a film can get while still providing light-hearted scenes and likeable characters.

The story completion isn’t particularly satisfying. But you still root for Bayou despite his fate being revealed at the start of the film.

The cast are mostly unknown but give compelling performances throughout the film. Amirah Vann is particularly talented, not only in acting but in singing too, which she shows multiple times.

Overall, A Jazzman’s Blues is worth watching, if not only for the emotional journey it takes you on. With the pretty cinematography, blues, and forbidden romance, it won’t be a disappointing experience.

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