Blue Like Jazz (M)

In a word: Authentic

 

"This is not your typical ‘Christian’ film and director Steve Taylor has ensured there’s an authenticity about the story – which is in part based on Miller’s own experiences – that’s appealing."

Having been a fan of Don Miller’s best-selling book of the same name, I wasn’t sure how a collection of essays would translate to the screen. But the film – which was written in consultation with Miller (in fact one of his later books deals with its creation) - takes a more narrative approach and well, while it’s considerably different to the book, it works.

Blue Like Jazz tells the story of 19-year-old Don (played here by Marshall Allman) who lives in Texas where, his parents separated, he has been brought up by his mother (Jenny Littleton) as a church-going Baptist who has been very active in his youth group.

On the advice of his liberal – and non-Christian – father (played by Eric Lange) than he takes the plunge and enrols at Reed College in Portland, portrayed as an ultra-liberal campus where anti-Christian discussion is not just encouraged, it’s expected.

There, exposed to a new world in which alcohol, drugs and sex proliferate, Don eventually befriends fellow students including a student with a cause, Penny (Claire Holt), lesbian Lauryn (Tania Raymonde) and the rather abrasive atheist simply known as The Pope (Justin Welborn). Don isn’t in Texas any more.

Embracing his new-found freedom, Don wrestles with his faith and what it really means to be a Christian, including whether he should even admit to being such.

This is not your typical ‘Christian’ film and director Steve Taylor has ensured there’s an authenticity about the story – which is in part based on Miller’s own experiences – that’s appealing.

There’s some ups and downs along the way in terms of engaging the watcher and certainly not all of the characters work – Don’s former youth pastor, for example, is a bit of a caricature – and there’s much about Don’s faith that’s left unexplored, but, generally, this is a thought-provoking and, as was Miller’s book, at times a refreshingly honest look at being Christian in an environment where it’s no longer the norm.