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A Jazzman’s Blues review – soulful Netflix drama is Tyler Perry’s magnum opus – The Guardian

The Jazzman’s Doldrums review – soulful Netflix drama is Tyler Perry’s magnum opus

The particular divisive multi-hyphenate has delivered a surprisingly stirring period romance, a passion project for him that could spark the drastic career change

T yler Perry did not become a billionaire media mogul by making fine art. He did it by mass-producing plays, films and TV series about scorned Black women and their dysfunctional families who ultimately find succor in Christian lessons in forgiveness, dignity plus self-worth. And as mesmerizing as it’s been to watch this New Orleans-born, former temp worker that never finished high school write, produce, direct and act in much of this particular work – not least as the tart-tongued, pistol wielding granny Madea – the work ethic didn’t exactly endear your pet to highbrow consumers who else expected more of a 53-year-old Dark man which rightly crows about opening one of the industry’s largest studio lots on a former Confederate army base that’s played host in order to everything from Marvel epics to Bad Boys for Life to Coming in order to America 2.

Spike Lee would set the critical tone against Perry a decade ago, blasting his work as “coonery” and “buffoonery”. But when Perry, who got the last laugh by naming the sound stage after the particular She’s Gotta Have It director, took risks, the audiences for movies like For Colored Girls weren’t nearly as robust as they were for the Madea franchise. “I would love to go do a movie that’s as powerful as Schindler’s List, ” he told an audience at a Goldman Sachs conference four years ago. “I wrote the script in 1995 in relation to a Holocaust survivor and a jazz singer. But I knew what I was building We had to focus on … so that I can build all these other things to stand on. ”

Here at last will be that feature, A Jazzman’s Blues, which couldn’t be more unrecognizable as a Tyler Perry production. Gone are the overbearing religious themes, the particular risible wigs and the familiar rotation associated with company players burning through tens of pages of a day in single takes. (Brad Benedict, a supporting actor in the BET White House drama The Oval, was one notable exception. ) Rather, this is the story that takes its time building characters and conflict over the course of two-plus hours before winding down with a wallop. If there’s anything to lament, it’s Perry’s decision to drop the film on Netflix instead of challenging the current box office’s weak crop. Jazzman isn’t just good for a Tyler Perry movie. It’s good full stop.

Set within rural Georgia in 1940, Jazzman starts as a teen romance between family black sheep Bayou (Joshua Boone) and Leanne (Solea Pfeiffer), who is sent away in order to live up north after Bayou proposes marriage. Even though he goes on with their life (enlists within the service, dodges combat and returns home right after suffering an injury), he still carries a flame for Leanne. And when she earnings on the arm of a white scion of a political dynasty, this sends shivers through the particular Black community who knew her back when. Bayou knows she’s “playing a dangerous game”, but neither can resist the urge to reconnect. When Leanne’s diabolical mother, who sent her away to begin with, catches wind of the kids’ rekindled romance, she tells a lie that will forces Bayou to skip town with his older brother for Chicago.

That sibling, Wille Earl (Austin Scott), was off to make his fortune as a trumpet player and had an audition (kind of) set upward in the hottest room in town by their mysterious manager Ira (Ryan Eggold), the Holocaust survivor with acute survivor’s guilt. But because Bayou, a shy vocalist with the big voice, emerges since the a lot bigger talent, Wille Earl’s resentment deepens with his addiction to heroin. Like Leanne, Bayou is eventually lured back home to check in on their mother, whose thriving juke joint business grew fallow after this individual escaped town. The star-crossed lovers hitch another plan to ditch town again, this period with a baby in their party.

Everything related to this film is genuinely absorbing. The particular performances are restrained. The locations, many of them seemingly around the Perry Studios lot, are usually lush. The particular musical numbers are decadent, no doubt thanks to Perry roping within the multi-Grammy winning jazz composer Terence Blanchard, a longtime Spike Lee collaborator. The storytelling is efficient, the scenes well-paced, the command associated with social plus racial politics ironclad. Perry never shows up on screen, in drag or otherwise. But his vast skill and resources shine via. And so does his heart.

So Perry took 30 years to build an empire. In the particular end, there is no question it was the right move. If he had tried starting his profession with Jazzman, the world probably never sees the particular film in all, let alone in this stunning, unadulterated form. Perry not only fulfilled his promise – you could call this their magnum opus. But (and I can’t believe I’m writing this) his best might indeed be yet to come.

  • A Jazzman’s Blues is usually now available on Netflix