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André Benjamin, saddled with a bushy afro and a quiet at times murmur finally pops on the screen while holding Linda Keith (Imogen Poots) hostage by his guitar. The moment is captured early in JIMI: All Is By My Side and its our first true glimpse into what Hendrix was, a sort of shy genius who would rather let the wails of his guitar speak for him in louder and brasher tones than anything that ever emitted from his own lips.

The film, which due to rights from the Hendrix estate couldn’t use any of his music instead plays on sounds, on the rush of conversations and the multitudes of different voices and images swirling around a room. It’s beautiful chaos, all under the direction of John Ridley, who penned the screenplay. We get cheeky moments of early drug culture in what looks like a mix of mid-1960s London and the Brits fascination with musicians playing Harlem and most of all – there’s Benjamin, dripping of cool able to with the kind of conviction and flushed nuances embody Hendrix.

Every relationship to Hendrix immediately yields either two actions in By My Side, those amazed by his guitar skills that they latch on to a musical genius who merely wants to play and others who dig deeper into the person, the one reluctant to involve his mother in conversations. Benjamin recoils whenever accused of anything, slumps back when he hears of disappointment, refuses to take command of a situation and smirks when he’s pulled off a miracle. He’s like a precocious teenager in some instances despite being all of a reluctant twenty-something.

“Why do you even insist on wearing leopard?” Poots ask him in regards to him playing in the backing band to Curtis Knight in the Squires. He laughs it off, bashful a bit before the two form a rather instinctive relationship that early teeters on respect, then love. Poots offers a more than valid Linda Keith here, responsible for plenty of the film’s early action just by her gravity to Rolling Stones boyfriend Keith Richards. “Modeling and shacking up with The Rolling Stones isn’t what good looking British women do,” she explains in regards to her own beauty and reluctance to deal with her father’s set rules. In a way, Hendrix is her escape and after begging anyone to hear him play — it’s a relationship she ultimately can’t let go of.

Benjamin knows the fuse that is Hendrix’s rocket only lasts for a brief period of time, fiery at times with his women (an early GF gets pissed at him buying “white boy” records) and his version of Hendrix affirms that by just letting things go and happen in zen like moments. What can’t be dusted from all the shots of peacoats, racial turmoil, divided guitar hero lines (a spraypainted “CLAPTON IS GOD” is splashed along a building in London) and Benjamin’s six hour a day guitar lessons to play with his left is how he surmises what happens when he plays. “For me it’s colors … painting it with a little science fiction.”

JIMI: All Is By My Side, starring André Benjamin, Imogen Poots, Andrew Buckley, Runtime: 118 min. Rating *** out of four.