Jimi: All Is By My Side
Jimi: All Is By My Side Film Review
Jimi: All Is By My Side is a drama based on true events during a year in Jimi Hendrix’s life from the moment he leaves New York and sets off for London, written and directed by the award-winning John Ripley who previously bought us 12 Years A Slave. It is a shocking, honest and brutal telling not only of the life of Jimi in the music industry and how he comes to fame, but also of his relationships with women and the other issues that surround him, such as racism and drug use.
The movie throws you right into a scene where you get to see Jimi (Andre Benjamin) perform in a club in 1967, and you instantly see Jimi in his element, living in the music. It then backtracks to 1966 where he is performing as a back-up guitarist and gets noticed by Linda Keith (Imogen Poots), girlfriend of Keith Richards. Linda makes it her job to ensure others see in Jimi what she does and the movie follows closely as Jimi learns to become a performer with her help. Linda finds Jimi a manager and the two set off for London Jimi gets the chance to become the frontman of his own band and make his mark on the London music scene, eventually getting the chance to perform in front of hundreds on stage at the Saville Theatre.
Jimi: All Is By My Side was based on archived interviews and materials and uses this to recreate one of the most important years of his life. It looks at the Jimi Hendrix before he became the music legend he is known at today as he learns, grows and falls in and out of love. Jimi: All Is By My Side is not 100 percent real or true and cannot be expected to be. This has caused controversy among several friends of the late Hendrix himself, namely Kathy Etchingham (played by Hayley Atwell in the movie) who claims that the parts surrounding their relationship are largely fictitious. Jimi is portrayed as a womaniser with various love interests and at times is shown to be violent and aggressive, especially when drunk.
The cinematography was worthy of applause and immersed you entirely into the movie, almost as if you were a bystander at one of the clubs experiencing it for yourself. Namely the scenes in which they were caught talking together in a club, the audio is not focussed on one conversation but all at once which creates this atmosphere as if you were sitting there beside them. You have to listen closely to catch the conversation and concentrate on it blocking out the other voices which I found charming and clever. The soundtrack lacks Hendrix songs, but in a way this works for the movie rather than against it as you only hear the music he was able to play before he was found and for the majority of the movie, this is the Hendrix we see – it would work against the story itself if you could hear music that Jimi had not yet made. The lack of this music also forced the director to focus more on the dialogue and setting the atmosphere for each of the scenes which gave it a raw and honest feeling to it. The directing style was artistic and innovative and captured the mood and feel of the movie entirely. I think Ridley did remarkably well in his first directing role.
The thing that stood out most to me about this movie was Andre Benjamin. Benjamin was outstanding in this role, he perfected the way Jimi Hendrix spoke, right down to the pace and rhythm and embodied his personality bringing to life his passivity and musical genius. He was able to capture Jimi’s essence and bring it to life in this role. I honestly felt as if I were actually watching Jimi perform. The roles played by Atwell and Poots were also outstanding and were able to keep up with Benjamin without being overshadowed.
Overall, Jimi: All Is By My Side is an artfully directed film which is shocking and spectacular. It may not be 100 percent truth, but it is not meant to be – all films based on true stories are the same. It is a glimpse into the life of the rock legend we all know as Jimi Hendrix and how he came to be. The film is a rock biopic and drama but had a romance undertone and will pull at your heart strings at times. It will shock you, for good or for worse but it is undoubtedly acted excellently and is cinematically beautiful. It is a film that music lovers will either love or hate. It tackles Jimi’s relationships, jealousy, drug use and the racism he experiences. No-one will be able to perfectly show Jimi Hendrix in all his glory, but Andre Benjamin gives a damn good go and gives us a chance to see who he could have been.