Don Cheadle’s freewheeling slice of jazz legend’s life in ‘Miles Ahead’

Michael Phillips – Chicago Tribune

With musical biopics, so often the most crucial element — the music — becomes a solo act, accompanied by little-to-nothing in the way of strong visual corollaries to that music. You get the outline of a tormented genius’ life, and a misguided, reverential sense of respect, but no cinema; no life in that life.

Don Cheadle’s “Miles Ahead” is a disarming exception to the usual. It’s squirrelly and exuberant. Even with what you might call a necessary evil at its center (more on that later), the film responds in storytelling terms to its subject’s jagged edges and dislocated state of mind. Cheadle, who stars in a role he w

Don Cheadle plays Miles Davis in "Miles Ahead." (Sony Pictures Classics)

Don Cheadle plays Miles Davis in “Miles Ahead.” (Sony Pictures Classics)

as born to play, clearly is mad for Miles Davis, the artist, but he’s not a sap about Miles Davis, the everything else.

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