Written and directed by 12 Years a Slave scribe John Ridley, Jimi: All is by My Side is unsatisfying in every way. As a lifelong Jimi Hendrix fan, initially, I was thrilled when it was announced that a film about his life was being made. However, when word came that the filmmakers were unable to secure the rights to any of Jimi’s songs from his estate, I assumed the project would be canceled. What’s the sense of a biopic about a musician if you don’t get to hear any of the music that made them famous?
Legal realities is likely the reason John Ridley chose to focus on one specific era of Hendrix life, rather than the more traditional path of a quick look at his childhood, rise to stardom, and ultimate downfall. The focus here is in London during 1966-67, with much of the story framed around two women in his life, girlfriend Kathy Etchingham (Hayley Atwell) and Linda Keith (Imogen Poots) who discovered him in a virtually empty New York club. Linda, then the girlfriend of Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, finds Jimi a manager in the person of Chas Chandler (Andrew Buckley), former bassist for the Animals. Chandler brings him to England, and the two set about creating the trio that will become the Jimi Hendrix Experience, with bassist Noel Redding (Oliver Bennett) and drummer Mitch Mitchell (Tom Dunlea).
Though 39, André Benjamin—aka André 3000—deserves credit for fully immersing himself into character to play 23-year-old Jimi. Benjamin learned to play left-handed, has a good sense of the emotion Jimi displayed while playing, and looks good in the threads. It’s a shame his obvious talent couldn’t have been showcased in a better film. If not having Jimi’s music in the film wasn’t bad enough, the lookalikes for the Beatles, Stones, and Cream are absolutely laughable.
If you’re going to do a film about a cultural icon like Jimi Hendrix, the final result has to be much better than what Jimi: All is by My Side could have ever delivered. The day the filmmakers were told they couldn’t use Hendrix music should have been a sign that the project wasn’t meant to be.
Presented in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, XLrator Media’s 1080p transfer features sharp detail, a densely saturated image, and rich, vibrant colors throughout. A layer of grain has clearly been added in post-production.
The film’s soundtrack, encoded in lossless DTS-HD MA, is dominated by Hendrix’s musical performances, recreated vocally by André Benjamin and on guitar by Waddy Wachtel. Fairly faithful to Hendrix style, the renditions are extremely clear. Most of the dialogue is clear, although Benjamin like Hendrix, can occasionally be difficult to understand.
English SDH subtitles are available.
The following extras are included:
- Music by Waddy, Lyrics by Danny (HD, 4:19) A short interview with Waddy Wachtel, who co-wrote the score and performed the guitar solos for the film.
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:39)