The theatregoer hoping to get some insight into Jimi Hendrix and London in 1966/67 will leave the theatre disappointed or duped by the film makers.
Before seeing the film I was apprehensive, as I had been told that my character was portrayed in a derogatory and potentially defamatory manner. I had been told that Jimi had beaten me with a telephone in the film and after I had protested that this was not true the film makers had replied that it was true because they had “thoroughly researched” me.
In other words they were saying that they were telling the truth and I was not.
During the opening scenes I found it difficult to comprehend the way the story was unfolding, or what it was depicting. The editing was disjointed and dialogue was layered on top of alternate dialogue, seemingly from a parallel conversation.
The film progressed in a confusing and dull manner but there was one scene that gave me a momentary lift of anticipation. The scene depicts Jimi playing with Cream at the London Polytechnic Students’ Union and should have set out to depict an absolutely epic event that I had witnessed. (I had been carrying Jimi’s guitar).
I hoped that they would do Jimi justice in their interpretation of what happened.
Unfortunately, once the music started, my heart sank. What a disappointment. Not only was it insulting to Jimi’s legacy, but I would say it was fairly insulting to Eric Clapton as well because the real Eric Clapton would never have been in awe of the unremarkable performance presented to viewers in this film.
The storyline progressed in an awkward and illogical way and was hard to comprehend.
The basis seemed to be that the dimwitted “Jimi” could not make up his mind between the good rock chick (Linda Keith) and the bad rock chick (Kathy Etchingham) who later goes bonkers and takes an overdose. (If I was the actress having to play this lousy part wearing those ugly clothes I may have taken an overdose too.)
The strange fact that jars with this fictional narrative is that the unfortunate Linda Keith ended up in rehab at around this time because Keith Richards, of all people, initiated an intervention that probably saved her life. She was hardly in a position to be advising Jimi on how to play the guitar and do his hair.
Fictional characters were introduced that furthered the deluded political, racial and sexist agenda that John Ridley seemed to be pursuing. In particular Michael X was presented as a saintly black political guru whereas in truth he was a violent criminal con man who was executed for a gruesome murder. An “Ida” character is introduced who never existed in real life.
The biggest disappointment of this film was that after expecting at least some kind of depiction of Jimi’s humour and creativity and the amusing and creative times that were happening in London, instead we were shown a gloomy and depressing dark tale that pictured Jimi as some sort of moronic mumbling mystic.
Instead of showing Jimi touring the UK and Europe, writing and performing the most innovative music of the century we are shown scenes of banal meanderings, fictitious gratuitous violence and fictitious mental breakdowns and overdoses.
My initial anxiety turned to scorn for the thoroughly bad screenplay and direction.
I became bored and impatient for the end of the film.
The nature of the film left me feeling that the events I was watching were more akin to a made for DVD fictional movie than a biopic. I felt that I wasn’t watching an interpretation of the real events from the time, but rather a stiff and poorly depicted mashup of events described in my book, sprinkled over Ridley’s racially driven fictional theme. Even the imaginary and defamatory domestic violence and drug use that my character was involved in did not evoke the emotional response I expected, and I found myself feeling just as I have when watching other bad movies, impatient for it to just finish and spare me the indignity of having to watch another tiresome scene with wooden dialogue and disjointed editing.
A short-sighted and somewhat offensive portrayal of Jimi and those around him at the time.
Fictional Movie – 2/10
Biopic purporting to be based in fact – 1/10 (for spelling all the names right)
The viewer should note that Ridley never interviewed me or obtained a release. Also none of Jimi’s London friends have been interviewed by him or any of his staff.