If you're like me, every time you hear "Christian movie," you reach for a jug of Pepto-Bismol (and maybe some holy water, for good measure).
With rare exception, most are deplorable. Christ is not glorified, but dare I say, horrified.
If you get the DVD of Blue Like Jazz, you may want to fast forward through the trailers. They are "Exhibit 'A'" of horrendous "Christian" movies.
Thus my expectations were very low when watched Blue Like Jazz, but I was pleasantly surprised. It did what the stereotypical Christian movie can't quite get itself to ever do: stay close to human experience.
You know what I mean: the Christian film that begins with a premise of what life ought to be "from a biblical perspective" (does the Bible have eyes?) and then simply transposes this ideology into the realm of dialogue and wooden acting.
Granted, having good intentions and thinking this is enough to make a good film is not the folly of just Christians (but it seems to "help"): Freedom Writers nearly drove me to violence.
Blue Like Jazz does something that is rarely recognized in film (or anywhere else in popular culture). It acknowledges the failure of Christians but insists upon the power of Christ. Now that sounds all pious, doesn't it? But what I mean is that it puts on display evangelical (well, Southern Baptist) absurdities, but in so doing it does not dismiss the religious questions at the heart of religion (the questions of Southern Baptists, too!).
The film suggests that scandal does not dispense one from seeking out the meaning of life.
Donny's struggle is any thinking person's struggle: how do I reconcile the disproportion between who Christ is and the radical deficiencies of Christians? The film seems to answer it by saying, You don't. That is, the mystery of sin and evil are not problems to be solved, but are mysteries at the depths of each of our hearts.
Living as if God doesn't exist, doesn't solve the problem of sin and evil. As the saying goes, "Where ever you go, there you are."
The film touches upon the themes of scandal, friendship, higher education and meaning. A perfect film? No. But certainly one that can be enjoyed and re-watched. No Pepto-Bismol required.