Throw on a pair of platform boots and bell bottom jeans as you prepare to enter a time machine set for 1966 that will parallel you with James Marshall Hendrix—played by Andre Benjamin, also known as, Andre 3000 of Outkast. Audiences will witness his struggle from discovery to personal destruction in the new musical drama, Jimi: All is By My Side.
The first stop on this backwards journey drops the audience off in a nightclub where Jimmy James plays R&B with Curtis Knight. Combine talent with a bit of dumb luck and we are on our way to London, where Jimmy James begins the transformation into the musical icon, Jimi Hendrix.
Writer and director, John Ridley—also known for writing the Oscar winning film, 12 Years A Slave—helps to guide viewers through this far out trip. He creates a yearlong travel, including pit stops that function as a convenient meeting place for integral characters.
Keith Richards happens to be the initial dumb luck that Hendrix stumbles into. He recognizes Hendrix’s raw talent and together they form a friendship that ignites a chain of events that introduces him to manager, Chas Chandler (Andrew Buckley). Chandler, former bassist from Animals, creates The Jimi Hendrix Experience and will eventually lead him to the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.
The film is abundant with uniquely stylized shots and a period montage that gives viewers selective perspective on the culture of the era. They also drain the sound from scenes to create a vacuum-like experience that enhances anticipation of what is to come. Viewers can expect the famous “small world” run-ins of Hendrix’s career with musicians like Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan, but will be disappointed to know the film lacks all of the Hendrix’s classics including, “Purple Haze”and “The Wind Cries Mary.” Instead, Ridley incorporates covers sung by Benjamin including, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Wild Thing.”
For a breakout-acting role in this unconventional biopic, Benjamin was a model cast. Beyond appearance, he accurately portrays the quirks and mannerisms known to Hendrix and offers a raw performance of the evolution of his persona during the time of his career.
Mix in the social tensions during the 1960’s, a dose of sex, drugs, left-handed rock ‘n’ roll and Hendrix’s psychedelic and philosophical train of thought, you have an R-rated flick whose plot aggressively builds up only to flat line. The film closes right before the Monterey Pop Music Festival, where Hendrix notoriously burns his guitar; this coupled with the lack of original songs proved the film to be mildly disappointing.
The film was released Sept. 26, and unfortunately, there are no local showings. All Wolves, 17 and older, can view the film in various locations throughout Atlanta, including Atlantic Station and Midtown.