Jimi: All Is By My Side

"Weak"

Jimi: All Is By My Side Review


Exploring a year in the life of Jimi Hendrix just before he hit the public consciousness is a fascinating idea, but this biopic misses every opportunity to say something interesting. The filmmakers certainly invest this movie with plenty of stylish period detail trying to make up for the fact that they didn't secure the rights to use Hendrix's music. With a better sense of character or story, they might have got away with it. But this movie feels all wrong.

It opens in 1966, when Jimi (Andre Benjamin) is quietly working in a New York bar as a member of Curtis Knight and the Squires. One evening, he's spotted by Linda (Imogen Poots), Keith Richards' girlfriend, who thinks he should be a star. Linking him with manager Chas (Andrew Buckley), a former member of the Animals, Linda takes Jimi to London to record an album and build his reputation. Over the next year, Jimi hones his sound, puts together his band The Jimi Hendrix Experience and hooks up with local girl Kathy (Hayley Atwell). And it starts to work: the band breaks into the UK pop charts with a series of hit singles. On the other hand, across the Atlantic the Americans seem to be rather apathetic. And the organisers of the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival hesitate before inviting him to perform.

The rest is history. And it's not in this film. But then the story here centres on Hendrix's pre-fame year, which allows writer-turned-director John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) to dig further into the artist's motivations than most biopics do. Hendrix's stroke of genius was to fuse rock instruments with the blues, creating all new sounds with his guitar. But then these aren't in the film either. Instead there are just sound-alike tunes, plus one audacious performance on a London stage: singing Sgt Pepper just after it was released, with the Beatles in the audience. Whether it actually happened like this is anyone's guess; like much of the film, this scene feels mythical.

Benjamin gives a solid, introspective performance, despite being far too old for the role. At 40 Benjamin is far too knowing and wizened to play the 24-year-old Hendrix. And both Poots and Atwell do their best even as they're hung out to dry in thinly developed female roles. Meanwhile, Ridley tries to make things groovy with inventive camerawork and out-of-sync sound. These are nice touches even if they further distance the audience from the characters, as do the heavy-handed story elements about racism in America and Britain. And without any proper context, all of this just swirls around the screen with nowhere to go.

Rich Cline

Click here to watch the trailer for Jimi: All Is By My Side


 



Jimi: All Is By My Side

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 118 mins

In Theaters: Friday 24th October 2014

Box Office USA: $0.3M

Distributed by: Xlrator Media

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Fresh: 49 Rotten: 23

IMDB: 5.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Danny Bramson, Anthony Burns, Jeff Culotta, Brandon Freeman, Tristan Lynch, Sean McKittrick, Nigel Thomas

Starring: as Linda Keith, as Michael Jeffery, as Ida, as Keith Richards, as Jimi Hendrix, as Phoebe, as John, Robbie Jarvis as Andrew Loog Oldham, Andrew Buckley as Chas Chandler, Jade Yourell as Roberta Goldstein, as Kathy Etchingham, Clare-Hope Ashitey as Faye

Also starring: ,

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