Plot: What’s it about?
Donald (Marshall Allman) has always been a conservative, religious young man. But then he learns that his own mother is having an affair, with a local pastor no less. Shaken by these events, he decides to make some drastic changes. He transfers from a conservative school to Reed College, one of the nation’s most liberal institutions. While his new environment is foreign to him, Don is determined to experience all it has to offer. So he is soon friends with people he never would have been open to before, such as political activists and even a lesbian. He also dives into the college lifestyle, with parties and alcohol, slowly moving further and further from the roots of his faith. As he starts to change as a person based on these experiences, Don has to decide which direction he wants to take in life. Will he return to his faith and learn to accept the faults therein, or has the secular life given him the chance to find himself?
A movie about religion and faith can be hard to pull off, as most attempts come off as overly forced, regardless of which side of the issues are explored. But Blue Like Jazz manages to be understated and sincere, which is quite rare. The film never feels like a sermon, nor does it mock faith and that is the movie’s strongest element. While the thoughtful approach to a sensitive subject is great, the rest of Blue Like Jazz isn’t as remarkable. The film seems to have no passion or drive, the energy level is low throughout and often the film tends to drag on. So while the message is competent, the film struggles to keep the audience interested enough to appreciate that aspect. The performances are solid, but no one stands out as excellent or memorable. In the end, while the film is able to offer a sincere take on faith, Blue Like Jazz falls short as a total package. But if you’re after a faith driven movie, Blue Like Jazz is worth a chance.
Video: How does it look?
Blue Like Jazz is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen. This transfer is clean and sharp, with good detail and no serious problems I could spot. The image shows good depth, with above average detail. I wouldn’t call the visuals eye popping, but softness is not an issue at all. The colors come off as natural and bright, while contrast is smooth and consistent. So perhaps not a top tier visual treatment, but the movie still looks great here.
Audio: How does it sound?
The soundtrack is good, but not that memorable. The music tends to be the most active audio element, so the surrounds don’t exactly get pushed to the limit here. But that is the nature of the material, so don’t fault this mix. The elements sound good, just not that active or immersive. The dialogue is the main focus and it is well handled. The vocals are clear and crisp, with no errors in terms of volume or balance. This disc also includes subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release includes audio comments from several crew members, a total of seven behind the scenes pieces, some deleted scenes, still photos, and the film’s theatrical trailer.