‘Jazzy’ Review: Movie Captures the Raw, Unfiltered Essence of Childhood Friendship

Do you remember about the friendships you had when you were young? Most of us don’t. But there’s one person that we all remember or even have with us since the day we got to know about the idea of a friendship. Although we tend to meet new people as our lives move ahead, one person always remains constant and even the thought of losing the makes us upset. Morrisa Maltz’s latest movie Jazzy is the highly-anticipated follow-up to the brilliant The Unknown Country and talks about two young girls getting to know about growing up. However, as they grow up, they realize how relationships change when people you love move away.

In her latest cinematic endeavor, Jazzy filmmaker Morrisa Maltz stitches a poignant and authentic portrait of childhood friendship. The movie chronicles the journey of a girl named Jazzy, a young Oglala Lakota girl growing up in South Dakota, and her best friend Syriah, who are trying to navigate their lives by talking about almost everything that they have in their minds. They go to school together, eat lunch together, play together and even spend time at each other’s house. However, things go downhill when Syriah tells Jazzy she is moving away to live with her grandmother and other family members. Jazzy gets distressed by this news, and Syriah feels the same way. As they move away from each other, they realize what life looks like when things change.

Friendship and family are core themes in Jazzy

The movie primarily focuses on their friendship but also talks about the value that family holds in our lives. At its core, there is a heart-warming and sometimes heart-breaking relationship between Jazzy and Syriah. Their friendship is a testament to the resilience and purity of childhood connections. Maltz does a wonderful job of introducing viewers to the girls’ world filled with little joys and complexities of growing up in a society that changes every single day.

Maltz took the world by storm with The Unknown Country and showed viewers what she is capable of. If The Unknown Country was more subtle, Jazzy is vibrant, brought to life by the radiant simplicity with which the two girls live their lives. In her latest venture, Maltz’s direction shines through in her ability to weave a narrative that is both intimate and expansive. She doesn’t shy away from capturing the small, precious moments that define childhood. From the spontaneous laughter and shared secrets to the unspoken understanding between two friends who know each other inside out. Additionally, it showcases the harsh realities of Jazzy and Syriah’s community. The film compels you to confront the socio-economic challenges faced by the community, adding to its honesty and authenticity. It gives a voice to a community and culture that is often under-represented in mainstream cinema.

Dreamlike cinematography in Jazzy

Another aspect that makes this film a treat to watch is its cinematography. The movie’s visual style is mesmerizing. Maltz employs a dreamlike quality to her cinematography, with soft lighting and effortless camera movements that evoke the fleeting nature of childhood memories. Meanwhile, the stylistic choice enhances the documentary feel of the film, making viewers believe that they are a part of Jazzy and Syriah’s universe and witnessing their lives unfold in front of their eyes. The use of natural landscapes highlights the beauty and serenity of the reservation, which serves as a backdrop to the girls’ adventures and struggles.

Growing up is full of heartbreak

However, the moment that makes this film such an emotional and worthy experience is when Jazzy learns about Syriah moving away. This revelation serves as a pivotal moment for Jazzy’s emotional growth, forcing her to confront the heartbreaks of growing up and the realities of the adult world. It’s not easy to show that transition on the screen, but Maltz handles it with sensitivity and elegance, capturing the unfiltered emotions of a young girl facing the loss of her closest companion. 

As far as acting is concerned, Jasmine Bearkiller Shangreaux and Syriah Fool Head Means are breathtaking in this film. Trust me, in certain moments, they’ll leave you speechless. Jasmine brings a profound emotional depth to her role as Jazzy, capturing the nuances of a young girl. Her portrayal is authentic and believable, resonating deeply with audiences. Her natural charm and charisma light up the screen, making her character’s joys and struggles incredibly engaging. On the other hand, Syriah’s performance feels genuine, making her character’s experiences and emotions relatable. The chemistry between Jasmine and Syriah is a treat to watch and adds to the depth.

All in all,  Jazzy is a cinematic triumph and a worthy follow-up to The Unknown Country, masterfully capturing the raw, unfiltered essence of childhood friendship. The journey of these young girls is authentic and takes viewers to a time when they got to know what growing up felt like. Morrisa Maltz is splendid behind the camera, capturing the lives of these young girls with precision and sensitivity. This movie is more than a story; it’s a heartfelt exploration of childhood’s fleeting beauty and the enduring impact of our earliest friendships.

Undoubtedly, one of the best movies of 2024.

Jazzy recently screened at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Learn more about the movie at the Tribeca site for the title.

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