Blue Like Jazz: Reviewed

“I have always distrusted memoir. I tend to write my memoirs through my fiction. It’s easier to get to the truth by not claiming that you are speaking it. Some things can be said in fiction that can never be said in memoir.”
Armistead Maupin

Matt and I went to see Blue Like Jazz today.

I must say that as far as movies adapted from memoirs go, this one was excellent.

I suspect that some people will be unsatisfied with this movie because it is not “true” to the stories told in the book, but it is important to note that it is a fictionalized account of true events.  It seems to me that for the purpose of film adaptation, Donald Miller had to condense multiple friends into a few well-rounded characters.  It also seems that for the purpose of making the transition from scene to scene smooth and interesting, he had to play around with the timeline of things and the placement of certain conversations in different circumstances.

I wanted to put that out there, so that no one would be confused as he or she watched it.  One cannot watch it and expect a literal reenactment of the book, as the book was not written in complete narrative form.

As far as the production quality goes, I found the movie to be well done.  There were some interesting nods to the book.  A scene where the reflection of a bridge in car windows called to mind the image on the cover of the book.  The cinematography was well done, and the party scenes were as close to an actual party scene as I have ever seen in a movie about faith.  Most “Christian” movies get this as wrong as a “Hell House” does.

The actors all seemed real, and the fact that I didn’t know who any of them were gave them some credibility as the actual  people I had envisioned in my mind.

Blue Like Jazz the book came to me at a time in my life about eight years ago when I desperately needed to feel less alone.  I needed to know that there were other freaks like me who had questions and needed validation that I was not floating out in space all by myself.  There are elements of the book that I have revisited and changed my mind or approach about since that time.  The interesting part is that it seems that Miller may have done the same thing.

The main example of this is the confessional booth.  I will not post any spoilers, but I must say that shifting the focus from “they” to “I” seems to be a reflection of an additional ten years of maturity and wisdom on the part of the writer.  It also rang true with me.

All in all, I enjoyed this movie.  I left the theater with my husband and we commenced an excellent discussion about where we both were when we read it and where we are now.  Incidentally, we were in similar places spiritually and situationally to the protagonist and Penny.

This book and the movie will always have a special place in my heart, and I highly recommend seeing it.  I think it will leave you with more questions than answers, and that is probably the point.


About wholefoodsoulfood

Wife, mother, teller-of stories, cooker of food, liver of life, teller of truth. Welcome to my corner of the internet. Make yourself at home.
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