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Parents' Guide to

Miles Ahead

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Cheadle shines in dark, labor-of-love biopic of Miles Davis.

Movie R 2016 100 minutes
Miles Ahead Poster Image

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What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

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Like an improvisational jazz piece, Cheadle's portrayal of the ultimate icon of cool is daring and memorable, if not easily accessible to the casual fan. Miles Ahead is clearly a true passion project, with Cheadle impressively handling his multiple duties as writer-director-producer-star. He doesn't take a straightforward approach to the biopic. There are no shots of baby Miles in East St. Louis, or a well-known character actor playing his friend John Coltrane, or even a medley of his most famous pieces. Instead, Cheadle concentrates on the lost years in Davis' life, when he wasn't producing new material and spent his time getting drunk, high, or sad about his bad choices -- like mistreating the one love of his life, Frances.

The majority of moviegoers who aren't hardcore Davis fans may not glean many specifics about Davis' life other than that he was once attacked by an NYPD officer, he was wildly successful for his early collaborations (but then took a surprising five-year hiatus), he adored and then abused his wife, and that he boxed, drank, and did drugs. There's not a lot of character development, because Cheadle zooms in and out of mostly one day, with a lot of flashbacks. It's the kind of story that demands attention but can be frustrating unless you're all in, which is worth it just to see Cheadle's worthy performance.

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