Jimi: All Is By My Side

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Jimi: All Is By My Side Movie Poster Image
Unique biopic focuses on one year of guitarist's wild life.
  • R
  • 2014
  • 118 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Underscores the idea that the audience for music shouldn't be divided by color or class and that behind every legendary musician is a group of little-known muses, managers, and intimates who support him or her.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most of the people around Jimi Hendrix really do appreciate his talent and want him to succeed; no one is exploiting him. Jimi is flawed and unsure of how to handle his talent and even less sure of how to handle the women in his life, but he does want to make good music.

Violence

English cops harass Jimi and threaten to hurt him, and Jimi strikes his girlfriend repeatedly with a phone's handset, sending her to the hospital.

Sex

Jimi has four different girlfriends throughout the film and has varying degrees of intimacy with each of them. He's shown passionately kissing three of them and making love to two of them (not graphic). Additional sexual references.

Language

Frequent strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "tosser," and racial slurs like "Ooga Booga Man."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Jimi and Linda drop acid (sugar cubes topped with liquid). He also drinks a lot and smokes weed a few times. Many characters smoke cigarettes (accurate for the movie's time period).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jimi: All Is by My Side is a biographical drama about the pivotal year right after iconic musician Jimi Hendrix was discovered in a New York nightclub and then encouraged to move to London. Starring OutKast's Andre Benjamin as Hendrix, the narrowly focused biopic doesn't shy away from the legendary guitarist's substance (acid, weed, cigarettes, alcohol) and domestic abuse (which has been disputed by both Hendrix's heirs and the woman involved), as well as sex (he was a bit of a womanizer) and language ("s--t," "f--k," plus some British insults like "tosser" and "cow" and a couple of racist remarks made by white police officers). Fans of the musician should know that the movie doesn't include any of Hendrix's music, since the filmmakers weren't able to secure the rights to his songs.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byzanityy June 3, 2015
Teen, 15 years old Written byBigplaya99 November 24, 2014

What's the story?

JIMI: ALL IS BY MY SIDE starts off in the dark and smoky Cheetah Club in 1966. Keith Richards' then-girlfriend, 20-year-old London socialite Linda Keith (Imogen Poots), and her friends are watching a mediocre R&B band that features an electrifying left-handed guitarist playing a right-handed guitar upside down. In awe, Linda asks the guitarist, who goes by Jimmy James (Andre Benjamin), to come over and have a drink, which turns to them dropping acid together -- and rather immediately to her becoming his patron and muse. With her connections and money, Linda buys Jimi a proper left-handed electric guitar, convinces him to use his given last name, and introduces him to Chas Chandler (Andrew Buckley), bassist in the newly split band the Animals. Chandler, hoping to start a new career as a manager, is blown away and arranges for Jimi to move to London, where he finds backup musicians (the Experience) and encourages Jimi to explore a new style of music. Hendrix, meanwhile, has moved on from the posh Linda to street-wise redhead Kathy (Hayley Atwell). But Hendrix is unpredictable and peculiar -- not to mention black --  so his personal and professional future are always in doubt.

Is it any good?

This is a mostly flawed if occasionally entertaining look at a musician who may never get his justice on screen. (His estate refuses to allow the good, the bad, and the ugly to be portrayed.) Writer-director John Ridley (an Academy Award winner for adapting 12 Years a Slave) has long been obsessed with the story of how a beautiful blond Englishwoman helped discover Hendrix. And as Poots plays Keith, she's so much more than a gorgeous groupie -- she's a well-bred young woman with an eye for talent. Of course, this isn't a movie about Keith (although someone should make one), but she is the catalyst for the story. Unfortunately, Ridley was unable to secure the rights to any of Hendrix's actual music, so you won't hear a medley of Hendrix's greatest hits like you do in other musical biopics, like Ray or Walk the Line. And to be honest, you won't find out much about Hendrix's past or future -- just a pivotal slice of this particular year in his life.

Benjamin plays Hendrix as a laid back, go-with-the-flow man, not exactly a deep-thinking or particularly ambitious musical genius. It's too bad that Benjamin, who certainly looks the part, wasn't given the chance to do much singing except at the end -- and even then it's just a cover. It's basically a radical experiment on Ridley's part to create a biopic devoid of Hendrix's own music, and it's clever of him to get around the issue by concentrating on the tumultuous year leading up to the Monterrey Music Festival (which itself isn't part of the film). There are a few memorable moments, like when Eric Clapton refuses to stay on stage with Hendrix once he hears him play, or when Hendrix refuses to give into an English black power activist's call for him to be more outspoken on race issues.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how this approach to a biographical drama compares to other, more encompassing ones. Do you prefer stories that focus on one particular year or event in a historical figure's life (like Lincoln) or the ones that take a more sweeping view of the actor's whole life (Ray, Walk the Line)?

  • How does the movie portray Hendrix's substance use/abuse? Does the story show the consequences of his drug and alcohol use? Would you say he was an addict?

  • Despite being virtually the only black rock star of the late '60s, Hendrix had a rather laid back attitude toward race issues, if the movie is to be believed. Are you surprised that he wasn't more interested in civil rights or, as one character puts it, speaking to "his people"? Do you agree with Hendrix that music transcends divisions of class, culture, and race?

Movie details

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