Music and memory coalesce in Don Cheadle’s Miles Ahead, a biopic about Miles Davis. Framed by an interview, the movie is divided into two narratives. The first one is a fictionalized account, set in 1979, of Davis (Cheadle) and a Rolling Stone reporter (Ewan McGregor) going after a stolen recording. The second consists of flashbacks illuminating Davis’s relationship with his wife, dancer Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi). Cheadle, who directed, impressionistically blends the action with the flashbacks. This interweaving crescendos powerfully at a boxing match as past and present episodes collide. Otherwise, the flashbacks themselves are tropes common to any given biopic, hitting the usual notes of a rise accompanying love and a fall accompanying degeneracy. Still, these scenes are not completely stale and overwrought, because of the ways in which Cheadle sprusses them up, mainly by pouring jazz over them like syrup. Cheadle is the soul of the film, embodying Davis’s feverish energy.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White