‘Jimi: All is By My Side’


So let’s start with what a lot of us felt before shooting began: Andre 3000 is a great choice to play Jimi Hendrix.  There’s enough in his style and cadence (and natural persona) to suggest Jimi without feeling like complete mimicry or impersonation.  The story of this particular biopic covers the period of Hendrix leaving America to take on London, and ends with his return to America (for Monterrey).  To me, it had a different rhythm than most Hollywood biopics.  I appreciated this, but it’s far enough away from genre convention that it might not be for everybody.

A few other hot takes:

  • You probably know the Hendrix estate didn’t sign off on any official Jimi recordings (and the film suffers for it).  But, ‘All is By My Side’ makes it clear Jimi Hendrix was very abusive to the women who loved him.  Conversely, ‘Get On Up’ was cosigned by James Brown’s estate.  Fun movie with studio backing and the official music.  There was one, off screen, implied moment where Jill Scott was thrown down a flight of stairs.  And it was never really followed up.  So…coincidence?
  • I’m never surprised but always impressed when an actor gets a chance to prove they can play different notes than the ones we are used to seeing them play.  In this film, that’s Hayley Atwell as Jimi’s main love interest.  I know, Captain America ain’t gonna like all that but…
  • There’s a scene after he’s made a name for himself where Jimi has tea with a native black Londoner.  In short, he tells Jimi that it’s great he’s so comfortable being the crossover sensation, he should also maintain a connection to the kids who actually see part of their own identity when they see Jimi Hendrix.  Have I mentioned yet that John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) wrote and directed this movie?  And yes, of course this was my favorite scene!
  • My second favorite scene (just as a music geek) was staging when Jimi covered ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ TWO DAYS after the record came out, with Paul and George in the audience. Unbelievably cocky, but of course it was fantastic and its own way, original.  That was Jimi Hendrix.

So yeah, maybe not even the best possible Jimi Hendrix movie. But I liked it.  Streaming on Netflix.

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