It's not a conventional biopic. it flits from the '80s, to his troubled childhood, to his first record deal, to his life on the road in the '60s and '70s with his disgruntled bandmates, not least his loyal number 2 Bobby Byrd (Ellis), who manages to stick out his tantrums and outrageous demands better than most. At choice moments Boseman's Brown speaks directly to camera, invigorating the narrative with loose and sly insouciance.
Costumes and production design depicting the various decades are all sound and the singer's big hits are impressively mimed - why no Living in America though? It remains watchable throughout however but never quite catches fire despite the energetic displays of showmanship. Well made and Boseman's vivid, in-your-face characterisation certainly deliver, but overall it never achieves the highs of the lead performance.