Arguably considered the greatest guitar player in history, Jimi Hendrix is one of the most influential musical and cultural icons of the twentieth century. His death at such a young age cut short an amazing career that ended almost as quickly as it had blossomed.
Now audiences can see an intimate part of Hendrixâ€™s life on the big screen.
In both a surprising and wonderful performance, Andre Benjamin tackles the role of the immortal Jimmy Hendrix in writer/director John Ridleyâ€™s biopic Jimi: All is by My Side currently playing at this yearâ€™s Los Angeles Film Festival. Ridleyâ€™s film focuses on an important and influential period of Hendrixâ€™s early career in London. From his discovery in a run down bar by Linda Keith (played by Imogen Poots) to his tumultuous relationship with his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham (played by Hayley Atwell), the story shedâ€™s light on Jimi Hendrixâ€™s slow rise to fame and music immortality.
Andre Benjamin is the big surprise coming from this film. His ability to mimic Hendrixâ€™s mannerisms and demeanor is uncanny. This is clearly one of the better acting performances of Benjaminâ€™s career and he should be commended for his effort in bringing such a famous cultural icon to life.
Ridley also deserves credit as writer/director for creating a less stereotypical biopic film and one that really resonates well with the era it is portraying. Rather than trying to fit Hendrixâ€™s short life in the span of two hours, he instead focuses his efforts on two important formative years of Hendrixâ€™s career. While at times a bit slow, it certainly paints an intimate picture and vision of what Hendrix was like as a musician and human being.
Perhaps the greatest strength of the film came down to editing and cinematography. Ridley clearly envisioned his film having an artistic feel of late 1960â€™s cinema through different cut sceneâ€™s and camera focuses. And scenes that feature Benjamin as Hendrix performing on stage are beautifully shot and sound absolutely superb. They make the audience feel as if they are in the audience watching greatness make music.
The movie is not perfect. At some points Jimi: All is by My Side drifts away from Hendrix and focuses more on those around him, hence the movie feeling a bit slow at times. But the feel of the 1960â€™s through Ridleyâ€™s filmmaking along with beautiful cinematography and an admirable performance by Andre Benjamin as Jimi Hendrix make this a refreshing biopic about a legend we all wish we could have had a little longer.
Jimi: All is by My Side opens August 8, 2014 in the UK and later this fall in the USA.