In the late 1970s, in the midst of a dazzling career at the forefront of modern jazz, Miles Davis (Don Cheadle) virtually disappeared from public view. Dave Braden (Ewan McGregor), a wily journalist, forces his way into Davis' life. Alone, with his creativity numbed by drugs, and his mind focused on past mistakes, Davis reluctantly partners with Braden on a mission to find a lost music tape and ultimately rediscover his mojo. Featuring a career defining performance by Oscar nominee Don Cheadle, "Miles Ahead" was developed with passion and delicate reverence for Davis' work. Cheadle co-wrote the script and makes a remarkable directorial debut, defying the conventions of the biopic genre to deliver a real treat for film and music fans alike.
There seem to have been so many of these bio-pics in the last few years, especially ones about legendary musicians, and for me, despite a great performance by Don Cheadle in the lead role, this had nothing to make it stand out.
On the contrary, it seemed to be the same old story replayed. Miles Davis may have come from a rich family, but the focus throughout on sex, drugs and rock and roll (sorry, jazz!) was unremittingly familiar and not a little depressing - were all these great musicians really such a-holes?
I have to say that there was not even a lot of jazz to brighten things up, so all in all I found it a perfectly watchable movie, but neither a particular enjoyable nor enlightening one.
Enjoyable though romanticised biopic
- Miles Ahead review by PV
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You rated this film: 4
The first thing for me to say is that this sort of freeform jazz is not my favourite sort of music. In fact, I tend to call it 'fire in a pet shop' music. I prefer a pleasant melody!
The second this is that this is a fascinating movie about Miles' retirement 1975-9 when he was high on cocaine and sex addiction (indeed after his death in 1991 it was revealed he was taking a drug used by HIV infected patients).
The ending is confusing - bearing in mind Miles Davis died on 28 September 1991. I knew little about Miles Davis except Some Kind of Blue from the late 50s, and the later jazz funk isn't really my thing.
But the film jobs along nicely enough, though I'd be surprised if this true story were not massively embellished.
I think Ewan McGregor is miscast though. I wonder if the Rolling Stone journalist was really Scottish at all!
Interesting too that Miles Davis came from a very prosperous and ranch-owning family, so not the oppressed African-American who made it at all! His dad was a rich dentist!