"Bye Bye Blues" is a sweet, little old-fashioned picture about life in Canada during World War II for one young mother whose husband has been placed in a Japanese POW camp.
She's not getting her checks from the Army, she's unskilled and living in a small town with her parochial parents and wants to stay home and raise her two children. But she also feels the need to earn a living and be out on her own.The latter arrives in an unexpected way as she links up with a small local band as a piano player. She can't play, but she can sing somewhat and gains an ally in the form of a trombone player who becomes smitten with her.
He manages to keep her in the band and helps her learn to play the piano better, while she fends off his romantic inclinations.
She somehow manages to do that over the next four years or so, as the band rises to some local prominence. Meanwhile, she struggles to raise her children, despite traveling on the road, and deals with problems that arise between her family and neighbors along the way.
"Bye Bye Blues" is a gentle, easygoing, laid-back picture that is at its best when evoking mood and feeling. Writer-director Anne Wheeler is especially good at vividly evoking Canada's harsh winters and the hard life of poor folks in a small town.
The film also benefits from a terrific cast, led by Rebecca Jenkins in the lead and Robyn Stevan as her more liberal sister-in-law, both winners of the Canadian Genie, that country's Oscar-equivalent. (Also good are Luke Reilly as the trombone player, Stuart Margolin as the drunken band leader and Michael Ontkean - best known as Sheriff Harry Truman on TV's "Twin Peaks" - as Jenkins' ill-fated husband.)
"Bye Bye Blues" is rated PG for a nude scene of Jenkins bathing, a couple of profanities and some violence.