Film Review: Miles Ahead


Don Cheadle’s labour of love Miles Ahead is a sparky biopic that evades the mould of the genre.

Having not performed or released new music in years, Miles Davis is something of a recluse in the late 1970s. When a Rolling Stone reporter attempts to get a scoop, it forces Miles into action…

After many years of pre-production, the film Don Cheadle spent years to bring to the screen is here. Miles Ahead is a biopic of Miles Davis that focuses on a specific period of the musician’s life. The film concentrates on the late 1970s era, after Miles has taken a break from performing music. The film leads with Miles reluctance to return to the spotlight, despite the wishes of his record company.

Although Miles Ahead takes place in the late 1970s, the film features substantial flashbacks. Through these sequences, director, co-writer and star Don Cheadle illustrates key moments in Davis’ life. The emphasis appears to be on moments that shaped the protagonist, rather than career highs.

Miles Ahead keeps returning to Miles relationship with Frances. It doing so, Cheadle depicts the contrast in his protagonist; Miles is both a talented musician and a flawed character. The film does not shy away from depicting the negative aspects of the musician’s life. Miles Ahead begins with close up shots of Miles Davis being interviewed. These serve to give a sense of personality of the artist, and to show that Don Cheadle has got the ticks right. Don Cheadle gives a strong and convincing performance as Miles Davis. Emayatzy Corinealdi is appealing as Frances, whilst Ewan McGregor brings swagger to the role of Dave.

Miles Ahead is an energetic film; there is a sense the tone of the film hopes to replicate the style of the wonderful music. The success may be questionable, but the film exhibits Cheadle’s promise as a director.