Whitney : Can I Be Me

So emo­tional…

Total Film - - Big Screen -

M as­sive tal­ent, in­ner tur­moil, dead too soon: Nick Broom­field’s por­trait of Whitney Hous­ton’s rise and plum­met shares more than a first-name ti­tle with re­cent docs about Amy Wine­house and Ja­nis Jo­plin. It lacks the all-ac­cess den­sity of Amy, but doc vet Broom­field tack­les Hous­ton’s tale with sim­i­lar tools, nav­i­gat­ing choppy emo­tions with old-school docu-rigour.

Broom­field ( Kurt & Court­ney) works reams of archive mat­ter into nar­ra­tive shape and shakes them up for rev­e­la­tions. Hous­ton’s ’hood up­bring­ing and long-ru­moured les­bian re­la­tion­ship with Robyn Craw­ford (not in­ter­viewed, sadly) are ex­plored. We learn, too, how Hous­ton’s main­stream-tar­geted im­age drew crit­i­cism. Though hurt, Hous­ton’s tal­ent shines through: in Rudi Dolezal’s up-close 1999 live footage, her voice roars.

Yet the roar be­came a rasp when drugs took hold. Ex­ac­er­bated by fam­ily trou­bles and in­dus­try pres­sures, Hous­ton couldn’t stall her 2000s fall. Grimly, she couldn’t save her daugh­ter, ei­ther. Broom­field doesn’t ad­dress Hous­ton’s painful 2010 re­turn, but he hardly needs to. As a richly de­tailed por­trait of show­biz tragedy at its cru­ellest, Whitney is heart-wring­ing enough al­ready. Kevin Har­ley

THE VER­DICT

Fame eats its own: Broom­field deep­ens an ar­che­typal tale with the aches of hu­man loss and tal­ent wasted.

Whitney Hous­ton at her spine-tin­gling best. Cer­tifi­cate 15 Di­rec­tor Nick Broom­field, Rudi Dolezal Star­ring Whitney Hous­ton Screen­play Blanche McIn­tyre, Tom Hodg­son Dis­trib­u­tor Dog­woof Run­ning time 105 mins

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