Release Date: April 9
Director: Jerry Zaks
Writers: Peter Martin Wormann, Robert Conte
Cinematographer: David Franco
Starring: Alessandro Nivola, David Oyelowo, Chi McBride, Jon Abrahams
Studio/Run Time: IFC, 91 mins.
Chess Records story has the blues
Jerry Zaks’ Who Do You Love? is the most recent biopic to fall victim to the form’s ironic limitations—any life worth making a movie about is far too vast to condense into a two-hour film, making shortcuts necessary.
With rushed plot developments and tired emotional touchstones, once again we are left with more of a slideshow than a movie. The story of Chess Records founder Leonard Chess—a Jewish man who introduced the world to artists like Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Bo Diddley—is fascinating. Alessandro Nivola turns in a solid performance as the passionate but haunted Chess, David Oyelowo is charming and charismatic as Muddy Waters, and there are a few joy-of-making-music scenes that’ll bring a smile to fans’ faces. But ultimately the movie is too shallow to leave much of a lasting impact.