Director: Don Cheadle
Writer: Steven Baigelman, Don Cheadle
Cast: Don Cheadle, Ewan McGregor, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Lakeith Stanfield, Brian Wolfman Black Bowman, Michael Stuhlbarg, Christina Marie Karis
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 22.10.2016
Miles Davis (Don Cheadle) hasn’t released new music in a long time. In fact, he was barely seen in public. That’s why journalist Dave Braden (Ewan McGregor) is dead set on profiling him to find out what’s going on and to give his own career a boost. He manages to find his way into Davis’ home and gets quickly involved in Davis’ chaotic, drug-fueled life and his desperate search for the master tapes containing his new music that were stolen from him.
Miles Ahead takes a very liberal approach to Miles Davis’ life, landing somewhere between crime story and biopic and working as neither. I hated almost every second of it.
I don’t know much about Miles Davis or his music. Biopics often are a good way of finding your way into the art of a person, especially when they’ve had a long career and you don’t even know where to begin otherwise. In that regard, Miles Ahead failed completely for me, as it didn’t manage to bring me any closer to Davis’ music; and the only takeaway I had from him as a person was that I pretty much hated him and thought he was an asshole.
Since the movie simply invents the plot about the stolen master tapes and the chase after them, it would have been okay for me, if it had simply dropped the biopic angle and just stuck with the crime story that just happened to have a fictional Miles Davis as the lead character, but there are two problems with that as well: one, the movie relies too much on the biopic formula, and two, the crime story is absolutely uninteresting.
All of that makes Miles Ahead an absolutely exhausting film. Plus, the acting was incredibly weak for the usually stellar cast they featured. I have stronger performances by pretty much every single one of them. The only positive exception to this is Emayatzy Corinealdi: she is amazing and wonderful and shines in a role she makes so much more out of than there actually is in the script. She was the film’s major saving grace.
But unfortunately not even her powerful performance was enough to save it entirely (for that her role was too small, unfortuantely). What I was left with was a film that made me hate the man and didn’t make me interested in his music. And for a film about Miles Davis that was probably made out of love or admiration for him and his art, this is a very poor result.