Over the course of their long career The Rolling Stones’ line-up has constantly changed but at the start there was Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ian Stewart. Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts would join shortly after, at which point Stewart was convinced to leave the official line-up because he was too ugly (he continued on as their road-manager and keyboardist). This core group of Jones, Jagger, Richards, Wyman and Watts was maintained till Jones left in 1969. Where once his hedonistic lifestyle went hand in hand with being a rock star, it was now impacting his contribution to the band. So it is with his biopic. There’s plenty of sex and drugs but hardly any rock and roll.
In fact, the only Stones tunes featured in the film are the band’s cover versions of ‘Little Red Rooster’ and ‘Not Fade Away’. A passable rendition of the former is performed over the opening credits before we jump forward to Jones’ body being dragged from his pool. A psychedelic montage of his life flashes in front of our eyes till we arrive at a time three months before his death. Tom Keylock, The Rolling Stones’ driver, who is immediately identified as a ne’er-do-well, delivers builder Frank Thorogood to Jones’ house to carry out some renovations. Yet Jones is hardly the ideal client, changing his mind on a whim, being tardy with his payments and luring Thorogood into his web of decadence. “I was always my own worst enemy” Jones confides to the builder. Then we unsubtly segue to another interminable flashback identified by its time and place (Chelsea ’64, Paris ’65, South Kensington ’66, Marrakesh ’67).
This clumsily introduced exposition is indicative of the lazy script cobbled together from three books about Brian Jones’ death. Consequently, there is little effort to breathe life into the man. There is no sense of Jones’ influence on The Rolling Stones in its formative years, no representation of his talent nor any elaboration of the factors that led to his removal. Nor is there any purpose of narrative with the flashbacks, which inexplicably alternate between B/W and colour. They merely exist to provide a snapshot of Jones’ life at that time. Here he is getting a schoolgirl pregnant, passing out in the recording studio or having his first taste of LSD while Jefferson Airplane's 'Go Ask Alice' plays in the background.
That trip encapsulates the film as a whole. A jumbled mess of competing images set against the music of somebody other than the Stones.
as Brian Jones
as Mick Jagger
as Keith Richards
as Charlie Watts
The deathbed confession mentioned in the film’s closing credits is disputed. Sussex Police have stated that the death of Brian Jones was investigated in 1969 and since then has been reviewed on more than one accession. No new evidence has emerged to suggest that the coroner's original verdict of 'death by misadventure' was incorrect. The case has not been reopened and there are no plans for that to happen.