Thursday, 28 April 2016

Miles Ahead (3½ Stars)

This is a biopic about the legendary jazz musician Miles Davis. It takes place in 1980, when he re-emerged to perform after a five year hiatus. There are frequent flashbacks to his earlier years and his relationship to his wife Frances. Though not explicitly stated, it's suggested that the break up of his marriage was a contributing factor to his retirement from music in 1975. Over the following five years he spent all his money on drugs and parties. In 1980 we see him as an emotional wreck, behaving more like a gangster than a serious musician.

Don Cheadle's performance as Miles Davis is nothing less than awe-inspiring. My problems with the film are its non-linear narrative. I knew nothing about Miles Davis' life before I went to see the film, and it wasn't clear to me how much time was elapsing between the events. After reading about him it seems like the film's flashbacks take place from 1958 to 1968. This was only a short time in his career. He performed as a jazz musician from 1944 to 1991, apart from his five year break.

I have to say, after watching the film, that I still know very little about Miles Davis. The film focuses on his relationship with his wife and less on his music. What influenced his musical development? What made him change his style over the years? Those are questions left unanswered.

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