‘American Symphony’ Reviews

1 September 2023


Jon Batiste Juggles Music Triumphs and Family Illness in an Intimate Music/Cancer Documentary

“Be kind, because everyone you meet is fighting a great battle” — that popular maxim (or some variation thereof) is often brought up in the context of remembering to have some sympathy for jerks. But it could also be applied to people whose lives seem too charmed to be true. In the documentary “American Symphony,” Jon Batiste, who often comes off as the merriest performer in all of popular music, turns out to be dealing with grim stuff behind the grin. It’s his wife, Suleika Jaouad, who’s waging the real war, against recurring leukemia. But Batiste is having his own skirmishes with anxiety and panic attacks related to her illness, even as he’s making headlines as the surprise Grammy hoarder of 2022. So don’t hate him just because he seems so damn happy, the film suggests; he’s earned his ebullience…

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The Hollywood Reporter-

Matthew Heineman’s Doc Is a Moving, Music-Filled Love Story

A celebration of art, resilience and the mutability of the human spirit, Matthew Heineman’s American Symphony never feels like it’s quite the documentary that its director originally intended it to be. Nor does it tell the story that featured star Jon Batiste presumably hoped for it to chronicle. But it’s all the more joyful and emotionally resonant for those deviations…

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