By Gregory Crofton
Director Matthew Heineman has made his own sweet symphony bringing to the screen the love story of musician and singer John Batiste and his wife Suleika Jaouad, a writer living with leukemia.
Heineman is devoted to observational documentary filmmaking. His wealth of experience observing life through a camera instead of relying on sit-down interviews and archival footage to make a movie, allows the true moments he captures to really soar.
Batiste hides under a pillow taking to his therapist on the phone about enduring panic attacks and not sleeping for three straight days. Being there with a camera in hand to record such intimate things is what breathes life into the story.
For Heineman’s first film “Our Time,” released in 2009, he traveled the United States in an RV and spoke to young people about their lives. He went on to direct “Escape Fire,” about the U.S. healthcare system, and followed it with the Oscar-nominated “Cartel Land,” about the Mexican drug trade. Later came “City of Ghosts,” about journalists in war-torn Syria, and most recently “Retrograde,” about the U.S. troops exiting Afghanistan after more than 20 years.
Heineman even got work done during Covid-19 with “The First Wave,” released in 2021, which documented four months inside a New York hospital when death from the disease was more common. Watch a trailer for “American Symphony,” streaming now on Netflix, below.