Don Cheadle stars and makes his directorial debut in this pseudo biopic focusing specifically on a fictional event in the life of Miles Davis.
Despite my jazzy upbringing (thanks Dad) I only really ‘got into’ Miles Davis when I was 22. I listened to Kind of Blue on repeat for a term of uni, but I didn’t know much about the man himself before walking into the cinema. I didn’t know what to expect other than a good soundtrack and in that department, of course, it delivered.
The story focuses on a fictional event in Miles Davis’ life which is brought about by the Rolling Stone journalist Dave Brill (Ewan McGregor). It’s Miles at his lowest point. He’s not released an album in five years and is facing pressure from his studio to do so. The situation descends into violence and chaos as Columbia Records try to get their hands on Davis’ personal recordings. The film also gives us a glimpse into Miles’ past and in particular his relationship with his wife at the time, Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi). Watching their relationship deteriorate is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film and Cheadle doesn’t shy away from showing Davis in a negative light here.
I was really impressed with Cheadle’s direction. Considering it was his debut behind the camera, it’s a real success. It’s clear he has the knack and artistic talent to direct. The film was stylishly framed and moved between memories and the present in an interesting way. Cheadle’s acting, too was great. I enjoyed seeing Davis fly off the handle, and the dialogue was sharp and funny.
Cheadle directs a smooth and stylish character study and it’s definitely an encouraging debut for him. However at times the film lacks tension and while McGregor is the comedic relief, it sometimes feels out of place. I’m not quite sure what tone Cheadle was going for in some scenes.