There is absolutely no gray area when it comes to depicting a music icon. They either soar (Ray) or go down in flames (Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story). More and more, filmmakers are trying to find different inventive ways to tell stories about legendary musicians. It was most recently done with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys in Love and Mercy and now Don Cheadle has done it with MILES AHEAD, the story about famed trumpeter and one of the greatest minds in musical history. The difference between this music biopic and the others is that it’s not a music biopic at all. There are a smattering of true stories woven into the film, but the buddy heist part of the movie is totally fictionalized. Yes, there’s a buddy heist part of the movie where Miles and a Rolling Stone reporter (Ewan McGregor) attempt to steal back Miles’s treasured demo tapes from mob boss. As much as we want this crazy story to be true, it isn’t.
Seeing as though Cheadle has been working on Miles Ahead for years (he’s the director, actor, and producer), it is a passion project. It’s an homage to the great musician and he has clearly taken many liberties. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Cheadle uses frills and visionary devices to decorate what is included in a typical rockstar: drugs, alcohol, attitude, sex, infidelity, marriage troubles (Emayatzy Corinealdi as his wife Frances Taylor is a joy), and everything else we have seen in music biopics in the last two decades.
In the end, Miles Ahead is fan fiction that he decided to share with the world. At times, it wobbles about, but you have to appreciate its passion. It’s Cheadle’s unapologetic take on Miles Davis and another biopic we can add to the pile.
Dino-Ray Ramos watches too much TV and laughs inappropriately during dramatic films. He’s a fan of comedy, podcasts, and comedy podcasts. He’s a reformed comic book geek and thinks “The Goonies” is the best movie of all time. When he isn’t stuffing his face with a burrito, he’s thinking about his next trip to Disneyland.
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer