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Blue Like Jazz

Entering the cinema I was expecting to hate every minute of this film. I was wrong. The film is creative, entertaining, and incredibly unusual. It uses humour to balance the often unsettling situations faced by the main character as he struggles to find a religious identity.

‘Blue Like Jazz’ follows Don Miller, played by Marshall Allman, as he rebels from his highly religious upbringing after moving from his Texas home and into largely agnostic Reed College. The film is a coming-of-age story as Don pursues relationships, experiments with drugs and hunts for his religious identity.

As ridiculous as the films name is, it is taken from the book title from which the film was adapted: “Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality.” The semi-autobiographical book by Donald Miller is his personnel reflections on his wrestle with the idea of god. Written as a series of essays, the book doesn’t lend itself to being a film but Director, Steve Taylor, manages to make it work.

The film is highly unusual and its opening line “Do you know the difference between being high and being free? Well, neither do I,” sets the tone effectively. Steve Taylor keeps the viewer engaged and interested by throwing in something unexpected.

There is a persistent sub-plot where a rabbit is chasing the “sexy carrot” around the campus this will not be understood by people who haven’t already read ‘Blue Like Jazz’ the novel. This is a reference to the children’s story that is included in the book and is used as a metaphor to show that the things we most want in life aren’t the things we need.

Even though the film is effectively pro-religion it may insult some Christian viewers in the same way the book has done. Cinematically the film could be open to criticism for the occasionally awkward acting and inconsistent script but, Steve Taylor’s ability to make serious topics entertaining makes this a film well worth watching.


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