“A Jazzman’s Blues,” Tyler Perry’s melodrama about ill-fated youngsters who fall in love in rural Georgia, marks the writer-director-studio head’s return to his first screenplay, which he wrote in 1995. Within the meantime, he broke by with a slew of Madea comedies, and whetted the talents required to ship the faceted fantastic thing about Bayou — his richest male character thus far — with dramas like 2010’s “For Coloured Women.”
It helps, too, that he has discovered an ideal portrayer in Joshua Boone (“Untimely”). Bayou, who’s embodied with a luminous sincerity by Boone, gives a touching tackle the form of compassionate man a so-called mama’s boy would possibly turn out to be.
The film begins in 1987. An aged model of Hattie Mae Boyd (Daphne Maxwell Reid) paces round her residence, listening to a white political candidate (Brent Antonello) being interviewed on tv. He blathers about his household’s civic legacy. When he begins nattering on about not being racist, she shuts off the TV. Then, briefly order, she arrives on the candidate’s workplace with a stack of affection letters — proof, she says, of her son’s killing in 1947. As the person begins studying the letters, the film shifts to the previous, the place it stays for a lot of the star-crossed, racism-infused romance.
Amirah Vann (in a bulwark flip) portrays the youthful model of Hattie Mae, the loving mama of Bayou and his brother, Willie Earl (Austin Scott). Solea Pfeiffer, in a promising onscreen debut, is Leanne, the meant recipient of Bayou’s missives.
From the get-go, Bayou and Leanne acknowledge in one another one thing wounded, but additionally sheltering. However their clandestine affection is upended when Leanne’s mom, Ethel (Lana Younger), bent on passing for white, wrenches her daughter away. The romance is briefly rekindled when a warfare damage sends Bayou residence to his mom’s juke joint outdoors Hopewell, Ga., and Leanne arrives, newly wed to a scion of the city’s reigning household.
With this flip, the film might need collapsed underneath the load of its twists or drowned within the sentimentality of Aaron Zigman’s rating. A unstable scene between Leanne and her childhood- friend-turned housekeeper, Citsy (performed with fierce sensitivity by Milauna Jemai Jackson), helps shore it up.
When Bayou leaves, this time to keep away from a lynching, he heads with Willie Earl and his brother’s music supervisor, Ira (Ryan Eggold), to Chicago. There, Ira lands a nightclub gig for Bayou, a honey-voiced singer, and his trumpet-playing, heroin-shooting brother. (It’s right here that the composer Terence Blanchard, who wrote songs for the movie, and the choreographer Debbie Allen create a few of its most exuberant musical numbers.)
“A Jazzman’s Blues” is full of outsize feelings, but in addition grand themes. The connection of antisemitism to white supremacy will get a major nod. And whereas habit, home abuse, and rape have up to now been Perry staples — and seem right here as nicely — they’re now within the service of a extra expansive, chastising saga.
A Jazzman’s Blues
Rated R for scenes of substance abuse, violence, rape, transient lovemaking and merciless language. Working time: 2 hours 7 minutes. Watch on Netflix.