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Miles Ahead


Stars: Don Cheadle, Ewan McGregor, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Lakeith Lee Stanfield, Michael Stuhlbarg

Director: Don Cheadle

Don’t expect a traditional Hollywood biopic.

Don Cheadle’s portrait of legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis is more of a riff on the life and times of Davis who, in the 1970s, is a drug-addicted recluse living in New York is shaken out of his solitary life when a (fictional) Rolling Stone journalist cons his way into Davis’ apartment and, in the process of writing a biographical piece, catalyzes the musician out of his solitary existence and into a series of wild invented adventures which include the musician pulling a gun on a CBS record company executive, a wild car chase and flashbacks to the trumpeter's first marriage.

Cheadle bids fair for auteur status as producer and co-writer (with Steven Baigelman) as well as making his directorial debut and playing Davis. His powerful portrait of the troubled musician more than compensates for the frequently less than convincing storyline. His Davis is credibly sad and enigmatic in his actions and neatly referred to as being more valuable dead than alive, which is the fate of most artists.

Cheadle sums up his approach to the subject by stating his intention was "To make an entertaining, "rock and roll" movie about a multi-talented musician in a non-traditional, subversive way. To attempt to DO Miles Davis rather than simply chronicle the highlights and low- lights of his life. That process felt like Miles to me."

He makes Davis a fascinating character, albeit more Cheadle than his subject,

It’s very much the Don Cheadle show and an interesting directorial debut. Ewan McGregor‘s Rolling Stone writer is simply there as a dramatic catalyst for the director’s star performance: for me, the most memorable aspect of McGregor’s merely adequate performance was his haircut.

Inevitably, and justifiably, too, Davis’s unique musical bequest will last a lot longer in the memory than this interesting film

Alan Frank

USA 2015. UK Distributor: Icon. Colour.
100 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 25 Apr 2016