Jimi: All By My Side (2013)
Rating (out of five) BB
Credit – Curzon Artificial Eye
Capturing the essence of a real-life star on film is a tough call, especially when the subject matter is open to interpretation and conjecture. Therein perhaps lies one of the issues with Jimi: All By My Side.
Jimi Hendrix was one of the most captivating and elusive stars of an era, still revered today as being at the forefront of a generational shift in musical trends. He made guitars sound like nobody ever had before and his funk-infused rock still illuminates and thrills. As a personality, he was troubled by drink and drugs and could become violent.
That violence manifests itself in a key scene which never actually happened, according to a report by The Guardian. Andre Benjamin, otherwise excellent as the protagonist, beats his girlfriend, played by Christopher Robin actress Hayley Atwell, with a telephone receiver, it’s a troubling scene doubtless included to show the flipside of the artist’s public persona, but it is claimed it is false; it never happened.
Once you begin to tear down the truth from the film, the illusion of this being a portrayal of a real living legend begins to fade and what is left in its place is a somewhat dour story that cannot be entirely trusted to remain true to fact.
The problems don’t end there; the filmmakers weren’t able to obtain rights to songs he wrote and as such Rolling Stone tells how instead the film boasts songs he performed in London during 1966 and 1967. The sixties-inspired visuals cannot do justice to the man without an accompaniment of his music; in practice, it barely works but in theory it’s an absurd piece of filmmaking
Whilst this biopic has its moments, not least the performance of Benjamin who puts in a performance Hendrix would surely have approved of, it isn’t something that will satisfy hardcore Hendrix fans. With such an impressive legacy and influence that has spread throughout modern-day music, Hendrix fans are perhaps going to be better served not by this often dour depiction of his early years, but instead by the recently released Albert Hall footage, described by TGF as one of the most anticipated treasures in musical history.
Jimi Hendrix continues to inspire and excite and a thirst for media connected to the star means he keeps on popping up in films and games. Old recordings of his music keep being found and given makeovers and he features in online slot games too. The Jimi Hendrix slot game on digital platform Foxy Games is a title dedicated to the music legend and includes iconography that reflects the star, including artwork from his albums. That commitment to bringing to life his work through showing his work is where Jimi: All By My Side falls down.
Sadly, it tries hard to depict his take on issues such as racial inequality and his battles against his demons, but average scripting and a focus on style rather than substance ultimately leave this as little more than a weak attempt to cash in on his fame.
Directed by John Ridley
Screenplay by John Ridley
Cinematography by Robert J. Bronner
Produced by Danny Bramson, Anthony Burns, Jeff Culotta, Brandon Freeman, Tristan Lynch, Sean McKittrick, Nigel Thomas
Music by Danny Bramson
Film Editing by Hank Corwin, Chris Gill