Miles Ahead tells is an exploration of the life and music of Miles Davis.
Always being a fan of Cheadle, I was interested to see how he would work behind the camera in his directorial debut along with a producer and actor credit to his name. He wears many hats, really showcasing his talents as a filmmaker and a performer. Even if you’re not a fan of jazz, you would at least recognise or heard of some of the classic jazz musicians like that of Miles Davis. I’m in a similar boat where I enjoy jazz and played it throughout high school in the school jazz band but wouldn’t consider myself a huge fan so going into this film, I knew little to nothing about Miles Davis’ life so this was an interesting lesson learned for me despite the film not really having any historical basis, though this isn’t what the film was about. It’s about Davis’ persona than an account of his life.
The film isn’t an origin story and is set in the later years of Miles’ life where he’s already reached considerable fortune and fame but plagued by his addiction to drugs that has caused him to become a recluse in ever sense of the word. This is unfortunate for him when he’s pursued by Ewan McGregor’s reporter character who’s interested in Davis’ new project. He’s our way into the story and into Davis’ life before drugs took a hold of his life, causing him to lose everything he once loved.
Though Miles Ahead doesn’t delve too deeply into the domestic violence initiated by Davis that was well documented in the early 60s or the racial tensions of the time, the film really tries to focus on Davis as a character. This was especially relevant when Davis is harassed by police and taken to jail because he showed kindness towards a white woman however this is all we see of the involvement of racial tensions at the time.
Cheadle’s performance as Miles is the definitive and iconic thing of this film from his raspy voice to his trumpeting. Although much of the supporting cast is amicable in their roles, it’s really Cheadle that holds this film all together.
Miles Ahead isn’t one of the be-all musician movies like that of Dreamgirls or Ray, but it’s one of the better creations of musicians portrayed on screen. A recommendation whether you’re a jazz fan or no.