Gilles’s review published on Letterboxd:
Though it has some occasional moments of radiant beauty, mostly found in Thelonius Monks' piano playing, this film is a brutal watch. To see an exceptional musical genius like Thelonius be slowly reduced to a piece of easily digestible entertainment for a white European audience is soulcrushing.
It reminded me strongly of 'Meeting The Man: James Baldwin in Paris.' in which a Swedish TV-crew blatantly misunderstands and disrespects Baldwin while supposedly making a documentary about the writer. Though the two films bear some resemblance, there's also a major difference: Baldwin is a verbal communicator, Monk is a musical one. This means that he cannot defend himself from televised exploitation in the same way Baldwin could. Where Monk lacks Baldwin's verbal strenght to protect himself. He is however able to retain his dignitity through his music.
It's here that Alain Gomis' film really shines. In this material, once used to turn art into commodity, he finds nuance and emotion. Both the vileness of the ignorant exploitation by the TV crew as the beauty of Thelonius' piano playing get beautifully highlighted in the editing.
I really hope Gomis' film gets the attention it deserves and I'm already looking forward to seeing his passion project: the Thelonius Monk biography film he's working on.