The joyous, emotional, heartbreaking celebration of the life and music of Whitney Houston, the greatest female R&B pop vocalist of all time. Tracking her journey from obscurity to musical superstardom.
Runtime: 146 minutes
Genre: Drama, History, Music
Stars: Naomi Ackie, Ashton Sanders, Stanley Tucci, Nafessa Williams, Lance A. Williams, Tamara Tunie, Clarke Peters, Daniel Washington, JaQuan Malik Jones, Kris Sidberry, Bailee Lopes, Bria Danielle Singleton, Adrian M. Mompoint, Coffey, Stew Replogle, Chanel Rose Connor, Sean Amos, Jon F. Merz
Director: Kasi Lemmons
nogodnomasters - 12 January 2023 The Voice The film opens with a quick 1994 American Music Awards teaser and quickly goes to New Jersey 1983. Whitney (Naomi Ackie) is being voice trained by her famous mother Cissy (Tamara Tunie) who instructs her to sing from the head, heart, and gut. Every song tells a story which is what the film does, using Whitney's songs juxtaposition with her life. It does not shy away from the negative things in her life. Her father (Clarke Peters) is easily added to the list of bad father managers. Whitney's love for Robyn (Nafessa Williams) is strongly hinted at and her relationship with Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders) clearly shows they were a bad match. It portrayed him at worst as an enabler and stated Whitney had drug issues before Bobby Brown and implied her death was accidental.
The film concentrated on the music. It didn't skimp on any songs and clearly they had marketing of the sound track in mind as all the songs were done completely. No quick riffs. Worth watching for the music alone. It is two hours you will never get back and won't want to.
Guide: F-word. No sex or nudity.
jboothmillard - 10 January 2023 I Wanna Dance with Somebody When I saw the trailer for a biopic about one of the greatest voices in pop music, I was naturally excited, and being from the screenwriter of Bohemian Rhapsody made it more appealing as well, produced by Whitney's manager Clive Davis, directed by Candyman actress Kasi Lemmons. Basically, in New Jersey 1983, Whitney Houston (Naomi Ackie, also producing) sings as part of a church choir, led by her mother Cissy (Tamara Tunie), a professional singer. Cissy can be hard on Whitney at times but wants better things for her. Whitney forms a friendship with Robyn Crawford (Nafessa Williams), which turns romantic and the two go on to move in together, much to her religious mother's dismay. Cissy is due to perform one evening, but she sees record producer Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci) in the audience. She fakes being ill and encourages Whitney to take her place, and she performs "The Greatest Love of All". Davis is impressed and has Whitney sign a record deal with Arista and she gets her first major performance singing "Home" on The Merv Griffin Show. Whitney's career takes off and she starts her own label, Nippy Inc. Whitney wants Robyn to become her assistant, but her overbearing and strict father and her self-appointed manager John (Clarke Peters) objects. He takes exception to their personal relationship and tells them to go on dates with men, which Robyn refuses to do. Whitney records "If You Say My Eyes Are Beautiful" with Jermaine Jackson (Jaison Hunter), whom she ends up sleeping with. Robyn is upset and jealous, their romantic relationship crumbles, but they remain close friends. Whitney becomes a worldwide superstar, appealing to all demographics, following the release of singles like "How Will I Know" and "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)". However, she faces criticism for selling out and not sounding "black enough". At the 1988 Soul Train Music Awards, Whitney is booed when Anita Baker (Lynn Leger) announces her as one of the nominees for Best Music Video. She loses to Janet Jackson but is comforted by R&B singer Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders) and the two began dating. Bobby eventually proposes to her but is upset when he tells her that he has gotten a former girlfriend pregnant. Whitney is enraged and storms out of their limousine onto a busy road, but they reconcile. In 1991, Whitney performs the National Anthem at 25th Super Bowl, earning an incredible reception. Clive suggests Whitney should consider acting in a movie and postpones her own wedding with Bobby to star in The Bodyguard alongside Kevin Costner. During filming, she suffers a miscarriage, but returns to the project and records a cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" for the movie's soundtrack (1992 Christmas Number One in the UK). She later marries Bobby and the following year they have a baby daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown. In 1994, Whitney performs at a concert for Nelson Mandela's release from prison and goes on tour. Exhausted from performing, Whitney demands to return home to be with her family. But at home, Whitney and Bobby are fighting, with one argument becoming almost physical, which results in her throwing him out of the house and developing a drug addiction. In 1998, Whitney she has released seven major songs and starred in three motion pictures but has not released a new album in eight years. Unhappy with Bobby, she decides to record "Why Does It Hurt So Bad", despite rejecting it several times in the past due to not connecting with the song's message. Whitney confronts her father John about access to her money and spending too much of it on expensive gifts, and she learns that he is negotiating a new deal with Arista Records. Whitney suffers insomnia and goes to see Clive at his hotel to discuss new music and playing "It's Not Right But It's Okay", she goes on to release a new album and goes on tour. The tour is exhausting, and Whitney's mental and physical health begins to decline. Her drug addiction causes problems for her voice, and her turbulent relationship with Bobby is in the news everywhere. During a visit with Clive, he urges her to go into rehabilitation, but she refuses. Near the end of the tour, Robyn fights with Bobby and attempts to get Whitney to return home. While Whitney chooses to continue the tour, Robyn leaves Nippy Inc., but not before telling her that her father is in the hospital. Whitney visits her father in the hospital which turns sour when the topic of money comes up, and she tells him her sister-in-law Pat (Kris Sidberry) will replace him as manager and ultimately cuts ties with him. When John dies Whitney does not attend his funeral. Cissy finds Whitney riddled with drugs and calls for the police to take her to rehab. She eventually becomes clean, reconnects with her daughter, and divorces Bobby. In 2009, she attempts a comeback with a new album and performs "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" on The Oprah Winfrey Show, which is met with a standing ovation. After the show, Clive visits her and she tells him that she is interested in touring again, but he advises her to rest. But Whitney ignores him and tours Europe, but it is disastrous, with fans walking out her of her shows and demanding refunds, due to her failing voice and stage performance. In February 2012, Whitney is in Los Angeles to perform at a pre-Grammy ceremony. Her bassist Rickey Minor (Dave Heard) advises her to call off the performance and rest, but she declines and is optimistic. At the Beverly Hilton hotel, she and Bobbi Kristina are preparing for the ceremony the following day, when she goes to the lobby to meet with her drug dealer. She goes to the bar and meets a bartender and long-time fan, and the two remininesce about her 1994 American Music Awards performance. Later, alone in her bathroom, Whitney cries and starts a bath, quietly singing to herself. She sits and prepares her drugs and looks back on the highlights of her life and career. It ends with Whitney performing in 1994 at the American Music Awards, singing a medley of "I Loves You, Porgy", "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" and "I Have Nothing", which is met with a standing ovation. Also starring Daniel Washington as Gary Houston, Bailee Lopes as Bobbi Kristina (8-11 years old), Bria Danielle Singleton as Bobbi Kristina (16-19 years old), JaQuan Malik Jones as Michael Houston, and Paul Held as Merv Griffin. British actress Ackie looks spot on as the famous singer in the various stages of her life and career, Sanders does well as her loving but sometimes aggressive husband, and Tucci is well cast as her manager who tries not to interfere unless necessary. The recreations of Whitney's most famous moments, especially the music videos, are impressive, as are the makeup and costumes, and obviously if you are a fan of the songs, you enjoy singing along. The problem, being a 12 certificate, is that they only skim over the problems Whitney had with domestic abuse with Bobby Brown, her use of crack cocaine, and her tragic death from drowning whilst using drugs. Long term fans might find out things they never knew before, e.g. Whitney's lesbian relationship, her father's control over her fortune, it is certainly an interesting and entertaining enough celebration of the talents of one of the greatest and successful vocalists of all time, an alright biographical musical drama. Worth watching!