In 'Round Midnight, real-life jazz legend Dexter Gordon brilliantly portrays the fictional tenor saxophonist Dale Turner, a musician slowly losing the battle with alcoholism, estranged from his family, and hanging on by a thread in the 1950's New York jazz world.
Dale gets an offer to play in Paris, where, like many other black American musicians at the time, he enjoys a respect for his humanity that is not based upon the color of his skin. A Parisian man who is obsessed with Turner's music befriends him and attempts to save Turner from himself. Although for Dale the damage is already done, his poignant relationship with the man and his young daughter re-kindles his spirit and his music as the end draws near.
This movie is about an aging, venerable jazz musician and composer, but it could be about any artist, particularly a musician, be he a classical, country western or blues artist. But the real star of the movie is the performing of the musichow it makes ineffable beauty, brings people together, touches the individual soul, creates love.
The story shows how jazz and, in particular, this jazz musician (a composite of real jazz musicians and composers) inspires a young Frenchman whose life has been changed by this jazz artist's music. The plot is simple and transparent, but digs deep into the soul of a viewer who yields himself up to the movie, whether he likes jazz or not.
Round Midnight shows the ups and downs of life in several aspects, but is really a tribute not merely to jazz musicians, but actually to the beauty of life that is found in personal experience and, more importantly, in inspiring works of art.
The director Bertrand Tavernier is French and has made many movies, on a wide variety of subjects. This film is almost all in English, but his French films are well worth watching, even if you have issues with subtitles. This film made me cry and other of his films have similarly moved me. I hope readers will see this film and perhaps venture to watch some other films by director Tavernier. A thing of beauty is a joy forever."