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A movie which more so looks into the various relationship of Hendrix than the man, the myth, and the legend.
Trigger Warning(s): Suicide & Domestic Abuse
Review (with Spoilers)
To be someone who likes music, especially rock music, and not have some sort of love or admiration for Jimi Hendrix is strange. For, like his fellow legends Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, he is one of those people who are synonymous with the idea of 60s rock music. Much less, even if you don’t like the majority of his discography, which is understandable, there has to be at least one song amongst “Purple Haze,” “All Along the Watchtower,” “Hey Joe,” and many others you surely must like. But, as for whether you may like this movie, fan or not, look below.
Characters & Story
The film takes place over one year and goes from when Linda Keith (Imogen Poots) seemingly discovered Jimi Hendrix (André Benjamin), while he played guitar for another artist, to Chas Chandler (Andrew Buckley) of The Animals taking him under his wing. From there, we watch Chandler take Hendrix to London to craft his first album. But, while there is work to do, being that Hendrix is a slight ladies man, he finds himself in the beds and arms of Ida (Ruth Negga) and Kathy (Hayley Atwell) just as much, if not more, than we see him on the stage or in the studio.
It is hard to deny Benjamin the credit due for presenting the look, vibe, and stage presence you’d expect for Jimi Hendrix. If just because you can tell there was some type of study on Hendrix done by Mr. Benjamin. As for the rest of the actors, being that Linda Keith, as well as Kathy Etchingham, much less Chas Chandler, aren’t familiar faces or names to me, I can’t say if the actors really emulated, imitated, or interpreted said people well. However, they do certainly have quality performances. Not award winning, but adequate I would say.
Oh, where to begin? Well, first, due to Hendrix’s family not giving the film the rights to Jimi’s music, pretty much all you’ll see for most of the film is Benjamin playing guitar and the one song he does sing, that is memorable, is “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Though the real disappointment is that while the film, you would think, is supposed to be about Jimi Hendrix’s rise to the cusp of his first big time success, what really happens is we explore his relationships with the aforementioned women above. Meaning, rather than learn about Hendrix’s military career, his relationship with his father, or anything that would give us some sort of insight and knowledge about Hendrix’s background, more so we focus on how abusive and controlling he was with Kathy; how Ida messed with his head a bit, as well as Kathy’s; and all the while, after Jimi comes to London, we see Linda sort of be jealous of Jimi’s attention being snatched from her.
Overall: Skip It
If you are truly looking to learn more about Jimi Hendrix, you are better off looking into the 2010 documentary Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child featuring the voice of Bootsy Collins as Jimi. Which I say because this film barely seems like it is about Jimi Hendrix at all. For with it barely talking about his relationship with his father, not talking at all about his military experience, and pretty much having a stronger focus on the women in his life than the music, it seems to me that once the production company knew they couldn’t get the music rights, they slapped this together and hoped for the best. Hence a Skip It label for without the music, without a focus on Jimi, and with the story likely being one you didn’t pay to see, I don’t see the point in wasting your time on this subpar biopic.