Jimi: All Is By My Side


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Jimi: All Is By My Side
"The film fails to fill those spaces between speculation and that other thing - truth"

Jimi Hendrix arrived in London from Tennessee unknown, untested and under the radar. Within a year he had blown Eric Clapton off the stage.

His musical innovation became legendary as was his drug intake and sexual stamina. When talking to the press he sounded hesitant and his singing voice imitated Dylan's walking blues technique. Like Janis Joplin he died aged 27. Now they call him genius, a tragic victim of the Swinging Sixties.

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John Ridley's film fails to fill the spaces between speculation and that other thing - truth. Using a documentary style he explores the haphazard nature of success. Chas Chandler (Andrew Buckley), once the bassist with The Animals, and a posh girl called Linda (Amanda Poots) persuade Jimi (Andre Benjamin) to come to London.

Once there he becomes a groupie magnet and an exciting new prospect on the club scene. Making a hit record was a tougher nut, however. With Chandler's help he puts together a minimalist band and name it The Experience. He is invited to perform at the Monterey Festival in California.

Benjamin is almost 40. He's a musician from the South, with big hair and natural charm, who must have found Jimi's introspection difficult to fathom. It is not his fault that the energy comes from elsewhere, especially from Kathy (Hayley Atwell), a possessive scrappy Northern chick who moves in and fights off all comers.

What is interesting about Hendrix are the sounds and the times. Despite Ridley's best efforts the man remains an enigma ("You can perform for 1000 people but can't be honest with one"). There isn't enough music here and Benjamin's guitar tricks are not as wild as the Wild Thing. Also, the film ends before Monterey.

Sitting alone in a room with the windows taped up to exclude the world outside is a sad reflection of a deeper dysfunction. How do you film that and make it groovy?

Reviewed on: 24 Oct 2014
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Jimi: All Is By My Side packshot
The opening chapters of The Jimi Hendrix Story in London
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Director: John Ridley

Writer: John Ridley

Starring: André Benjamin, Imogen Poots, Hayley Atwell, Andrew Buckley, Tom Dunlea, Robbie Jarvis, Ruth Negga, Burn Gorman, Ashley Charles, Laurence Kinlan, Clare-Hope Ashitey

Year: 2013

Runtime: 118 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK, Ireland, US


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