The upcoming Jimi Hendrix biopic, Jimi: All Is By My Side, is an intriguing candidate for many reasons; chief among them, it's a Hendrix biopic starring André '3000' Benjamin, whose performance as the eponymous musician is already drawing acclaim (the footage unveiled so far substantiates that praise). Moreover, as illustrated by the trailer above, All Is By My Side isn't so much a conventional memoir - it simply can't be, since the Hendrix estate refused to allow writer/director John Ridley to use any of the songs created by its artist subject.
Instead, All Is By My Side only covers Hendrix's life from 1966-67, chronicling how he went from being a backup guitarist performing at New York's Cheetah Club, to breaking out as a music sensation in London - offering "an intimate portrait of the sensitive young musician on the verge of becoming a rock legend," according to the official synopsis. The trailer indicates that Ridley's film is as much a work of Impressionism about Hendrix's experience performing as part of the 1960s London music scene as anything else - a sentiment backed up by the early reviews, with the Seattle Times' Moira Macdonald calling the movie "a mood piece, not a biopic" in her overall positive critique.
On a related note, initial word of mouth surrounding the Hendrix film is by and large positive, though not necessarily over the moon. Still, it seems as though being unable to use Hedrix's songs may have in some ways benefitted Ridley's movie, creatively - by forcing it to work outside the template for the standard musician biopic. THR's review, for example, notes that the lack of Hendrix's music means that "['All Is By My Side'] isn't as commercial as one might expect," but that the film is nonetheless "thoughtful and convincing."
Ridley has a good deal of experience as a screenwriter, having worked on the Barbershop TV series and The Wanda Sykes Show, in addition to having scripted such films as Red Tails, 12 Years a Slave (which snagged him an Oscar), and the upcoming Ben-Hur re-telling; on the directorial side, though, Ridley hasn't served as the helmsman on a feature since the crime drama Cold Around the Heart (which he also wrote), back in 1997. Still, by the look and sound of it, Jimi: All Is By My Side might well have something of an auteur-esque feel - something that would make the Hendrix film all the more worth checking out.
Rounding out the cast of Jimi: All Is By My Side are Imogen Poots (Need for Speed), Hayley Atwell (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Burn Gorman (Game of Thrones), Ruth Negga (Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and Ashley Charles (Vampire Academy), among others.
Jimi: All Is By My Side opens in U.S. theaters on September 26th, 2014.
Source: Katrina Wan PR