In the midst of a prolific career, Miles Davis (Don Cheadle) disappears from public view for a period of five years in the late 1970s. He lives in isolation while dealing with chronic pain from a deteriorating hip, a musical voice inhibited and numbed by drugs and painkillers, and traumatic memories of his past. A music reporter, Dave Braden (Ewan McGregor), forces his way into Davis' house and, over the next couple of days, the two men unwittingly embark on an adventure to recover a stolen tape recording of the musician's most recent compositions.
Davis' mercurial behavior is fueled by memories of his failed marriage to the talented and beautiful dancer Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi). During their romance and subsequent marriage, Frances served as Davis' muse. It was during this period that he released several of his signature recordings, including Sketches of Spain (1960) and "Someday My Prince Will Come" (1961). The eight-year marriage was marked by infidelity and abuse, however, and Frances was forced to flee for her own safety as Miles' mental and physical health deteriorated. By the late 1970s, plagued by years of regret and loss, Davis flirts with self-destruction until he once again finds redemption in his music.