Don Cheadle stars as legendary Jazz Musician Miles Davis.
That doesn’t do this justice, just saying that Don Cheadle, War Machine, stars as Miles Davis, he inhabits the man’s skin. Cheadle also Directs, Produces, Writes, and creates some of the original music that blends into the music of Davis with ease. I’m going to do that whole thing where I tell you I haven’t heard the music of Davis before, I’ve been aware of him for a long time, but usually Jazz is something that I avoid.
So this is a music BioPic, which we’ve had many of over the last few years. They usually start off before a concert where the Musician is sitting staring at a wall before going on stage, or start in the abusive childhood stage of the story. Cheadle decides to start this film at a point where Davis has shut himself away from the world, creating a new album, but refusing to deal with the reality of life. A reporter, claiming to work with Rolling Stone, shows up at his door and sparks an adventure for the two men. The following couple of days force Davis to confront the past that he was running away from and venture back to the music that made him a star in the first place.
Through the telling of this adventure we go back to the start of Davis’ love affair with Wife Francis. This is a touching and passionate love story and a big part of me wishes that Cheadle had concentrated on this relationship rather than concentrating on the relationship with the interviewer/reporter.
Don Cheadle is perfect for the role, and although it’s a pet project of his to do this film, it doesn’t have the usual stench that pet projects of stars bring to the front. His performance is brilliant and it’s obvious he’s spent a long time watching archive footage of interviews and performances of the late Musician. Some of the other performances, such as Ewan McGregor are just functional rather than anything special. Emayatzy Corinealdi plays Francis, the wife of Davis, and is stunning and emotionally perfect for the role, sacrificing her dreams in order to be the Wife of Davis. Their turbulent relationship is glossed over, although I guess we’re meant to take some of the montages as showing their relationship.
It’s nice that Davis’ isn’t painted as a saint, sometimes in these biopics that are made by fans of the subject matter there is a little glossing over of the demons inside them. Davis is shown as a man who in 1980 has been away from the music industry for 5 years and would happily be locked away from the world forever if his drug habit wasn’t in need of financing. The story of the Agent who steals his new music in order to sell it is a nice angle and brings a lot of comedy into the situations.
If you don’t know who Davis is or his impact on the music industry this won’t really clear that up at all. It’s an entertaining story with some nice music and it’s nice to see Cheadle out of the War Machine Armour and flexing his acting muscles. I felt a little let down that I didn’t want to run out and buy some of the music of the subject, which has happened before when watching biopics.
Director: Don Cheadle
Writers: Steven Baigelman, Don Cheadle, Stephen J. Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson
Stars: Don Cheadle, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Ewan McGregor