Andre Benjamin returns to the big screen in Jimi: All Is By My Side, one of this fall’s most buzzworthy films. The movie explores Jimi Hendrix’s life between 1966 and 1967, culminating with the legend preparing to take the U.S. by storm at the Monterey International Pop Festival. Along the way, Hendrix goes from a struggling New York blues guitarist to the cusp of rock stardom in London.
So what should you expect from the film as you indulge in Hendrix nostalgia? Read our list on the most significant points to keep in mind as you hit the theater.
Fans won’t hear Hendrix’s signature songs, but the music will still blow away viewers.
Don’t head to Jimi: All is by My Side expecting to rock out to “Purple Haze.” The late singer’s estate refused to license his songs to the filmmakers. That doesn’t mean you’ll be disappointed. The movie has brilliant covers of other ’60s classics, including a Hendrix-style rendition of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Andre 3000 didn’t use backing tracks during performance scenes, meaning you’ll hear him singing and playing guitar.
The movie was directed by John Ridley, who won an Oscar for 12 Years A Slave.
Andre 3000 isn’t this film’s only major player. Director and writer John Ridley helmed Jimi: All is by My Side, inspired to write a script after finding a long lost Hendrix track. “Sending My Love To Linda” sent Ridley on a quest to find the song’s namesake and led to him to create a movie about the rock star.
Just before the film debuted in the U.S. at March’s SXSW Festival, Ridley took won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for 12 Years A Slave, the critically acclaimed tale of slavery’s brutality. There’s no doubt Ridley can tackle compelling concepts and extract nuance from actors. And according to Andre 3000, Ridley’s the one who chose him as the film’s star.
Take note of Imogen Poots, Hayley Atwell, and Ruth Negga.
Jimi: All is by My Side would be nothing without the actresses who play the women in Hendrix’s life. Though they hail from England and Ireland, these three ladies could soon be household names in the States.
Imogen Poots (pictured left) plays Linda Keith, an English socialite wrapped up in the ’60s music scene. While watching Hendrix play at a New York City club, she sees potential in the shy guitarist. She also dates the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, and uses her connections in the British rock scene to get Hendrix to London. Poots has starred in American indie films like Greetings From Tim Buckley, A Late Quartet, and That Awkward Moment.
Fans might recognize English actress Hayley Atwell from her role as Agent Peggy Carter in the Captain America films. In Jimi: All is by My Side, she plays Kathy Etchingham, Hendrix’s working-class London girlfriend. Their tumultuous relationship leads to some of the film’s most contentious scenes.
Ruth Negga, an Ethiopian-Irish actress, plays Ida, a cunning Hendrix groupie. Her character hails from Milwaukee and she has connections to London’s black power movement. Ida slyly slides between Etchingham and Hendrix, adding more friction to their fractured relationship. Negga also had a role in 12 Years A Slave.
Viewers will fall in love with ’60s fashion.
Obviously, fans want to see Hendrix’s outlandish style on display. While struggling in New York City at the film’s outset, his look is understated. He cultivates his hippie fashion while in London, choosing flashier fare as he becomes more well-known. Sure, the military jacket in the photo above looks out-of-date now, but you have to admit, you’d rock it if this was 1967.
Expect Jimi: All is by My Side to gain a cult following.
Will this Hendrix biopic make it into the Oscars race? Probably not. Though it has the subtle complexity Academy voters like, the measured pace will only engage the rock star’s most ardent fans. Hendrix has remained an icon nearly 45 years after his death and this film seals his enigmatic status.
Jimi: All Is By My Side opens today in select cities.
[Photo Credit: Open Road Films]