Doco fails to de­liver

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Film - with Ju­lian Wright

A TAL­ENTED, gifted per­former whose life ended far too soon – it is a movie or pop star bio that is all too fa­mil­iar.

Singer Whit­ney Hous­ton’s life gets the doc­u­men­tary treat­ment by Nick Broom­field five years af­ter she was found dead in a ho­tel bath­tub, with friends and fam­ily re­count­ing the star’s ca­reer rise and per­sonal fall.

An open­ing sound bite by one close to her sug­gests that de­spite Hous­ton’s much-re­ported drug ad­dic­tion, it was a bro­ken heart that put her in her grave.

With that an­gle, Whit­ney: Can I Be Me spends much time cov­er­ing her re­la­tion­ship with her life­long best friend and right-hand woman Robyn Craw­ford and how it was in­ter­rupted with the ar­rival of Hous­ton’s even­tual hus­band, singer Bobby Brown.

The ten­sions of an ap­par­ent love tri­an­gle (it is sug­gested Hous­ton was bi-sex­ual and ro­man­ti­cally in­volved with Craw­ford) bub­bled un­der the sur­face as Hous­ton’s star con­tin­ued to rise, with the re­lease of sev­eral hit songs, box of­fice smash movie The Body­guard and nu­mer­ous awards.

And while many around her were con­cerned about her well­be­ing based on her ad­dic­tion to drugs, they con­tin­ued to watch Hous­ton strug­gle to help her­self.

Plenty of peo­ple ex­plain Hous­ton’s life, her ups, downs, ad­dic­tions and strug­gles, and the bad blood be­tween her hus­band and bestie, but de­spite the touted un­prece­dented and ap­par­ently ex­ten­sive footage cap­tured on her 1999 tour, where we are told the frays be­gan to show clearly, lit­tle footage actually backs it up.

There is an un­for­tu­nate dis­con­nect be­tween what we are told and what we see.

Fans that fol­lowed Hous­ton’s ca­reer closely may not get much out of this doc­u­men­tary, which tends to gloss over the most fas­ci­nat­ing as­pects – back­lash from the black com­mu­nity against her man­u­fac­tured pop image – and get fleet­ing screen time.

Al­lud­ing to Whit­ney’s pos­si­ble bi­sex­u­al­ity is the most sala­cious in­gre­di­ent, but feels greatly based on ru­mours.

Her tal­ent is un­de­ni­able and this film is a wel­come re­minder, tinged with sad­ness and tragedy, that such gifts should not be for­got­ten or taken for granted.

Footage of Whit­ney Hous­ton in Whit­ney: Can I Be Me.

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