BY MICHELLE MEDFORD
Honestly, I don’t know much about Jimi Hendrix. I don’t know many of his songs either. However, growing up in a musical family playing instruments most of my life, I’m always interested in a good music biopic, so this one was an natural pick for me at TIFF.
There’s not much you need to know about this movie plot-wise, except that it focuses on the year in Hendrix’s life set in London, a year when his career really began to take off. If you like stories about classic rock, guitarists or the music industry, you’ll easily be drawn in.
The best part about this movie was realizing after the fact that I never once thought about Andre Benjamin “The Musician,” and rather let him just be “The Actor,” especially in spite of the fact that this was a movie about music. This film is a representation of how far he’s come with his acting careers. It’s no longer distracting that he’s one half of OutKast (and brilliant at it) and is trying to become an actor–he is an actor. He very accurately captured Hendrix’s mannerisms and tone. I would not change a single thing about his performance if I could.
Imogen Poots as Linda Keith (a.k.a. the champion of Jimi Hendrix and Keith Richard’s girlfriend) was also very compelling. Maybe it’s all the retro-chic 60s garb that got me, but she was very convincing. Actually, the overall historical setting felt extremely accurate (but what do I know, really), detailed and fun to look at.
The direction of this film had a more artsy vibe to it than I was expecting. It was a bit choppy and a bit raw, intentionally. For the most part, I liked it, but as a music fan, it’s such a tease just getting snippets of songs at times.
I loved hearing director John Ridley speak at the Q&A at the end of the film. He was so well-spoken. He explained his deliberate artistic decisions and explained them thoughtfully. He spoke about the importance of telling the true story, as opposed to an “official” one. He spoke about the importance of song selection, score and sound editing in a movie all about music (a very interesting aspect of the film). It was just really, really enjoyable.
Although I can’t say I’d put this movie on the same shelf as Walk the Line, for any music lovers out there, this one’s worth a watch, if only once.