Starring: Roy Scheider, Jessica Lange, Ann Reinking
Director: Bob Fosse
Running Time: 123 mins
All That Jazz is an American film about a musical theatre director who attempts to simultaneously stage a new play while completing the edit of his movie, bringing pressures that push him beyond what he can handle.
A long, long way away from the bombastic musical from which its title is derived, All That Jazz is certainly an acquired taste. An intimate character study that provides a sobering window into a mindset of stress, fatalism and overworking, this film certainly has a lot to say, and it undoubtedly goes about it in a challenging way.
I’ll get straight to the point. I wasn’t a big fan of All That Jazz. Yes, it’s a bold story with a lot of emotional depth, and it’s a film that uses classic musical tropes to good effect to tell its story. What’s more, come the final act, the film pushes into a direction you really wouldn’t expect, again putting its themes of death and the meaning of life front and centre.
With that being said, the film’s first two acts were really a challenge for me to get into. The overarching themes are clear, and despite brief abstract asides that are initially a little distracting, the rest of the story lacks the same narrative meat and cinematic energy to really grab you.
Perhaps it’s a clever paralleling between our main character’s desperate struggles to balance his home life, his stage musical, and his movie, as All That Jazz has a lot going on, but never manages to nail anything particularly well. The music is eerily entertaining, however, and surprisingly makes for the most captivating and eye-catching moments of the film.
Roy Scheider gives a strong performance in the lead role, and manages to prioritise a faithfulness to his character’s weaknesses over likability and charisma. As such, he’s an extremely frustrating person to watch throughout, but Scheider makes it so that you really see just how flawed his character is.
So, while there’s a lot that All That Jazz does right, it’s still a film that I struggled to connect with. Despite captivating themes and bold cinematic choices, the film’s narrative style proves a frustration throughout. And that’s why I’m giving All That Jazz a 7.1 overall.