Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody review

Among Kasi Lemmons’ many winning epithets Whitney Houston: I want to dance with someone Is that unlike most musical biopics, which tend to sway through frustrating parts of songs that leave you wanting more, this one offers many generous performance breaks. It is appropriate to hear in the image of the woman considered the greatest voice of her generation, that voice in all its full glory. The strength, self-possession, joy, and even spiritual wealth in each of my voice likely has a lot to do with this feeling that feels less like a tragic odyssey of ups and downs than a celebration of an enduring icon that fame hasn’t always been kind to. .

That’s not to say Lemmons and screenwriter Anthony McCarten are cornering the market on musical bio-drama just yet bohemian rhapsody The Neil Diamond Broadway musical gathering Nice noise – glossing over Houston’s fall from grace or the demons that plagued her throughout her years in the spotlight. That’s it here. But the highs and lows are built on a solid foundation of respect that will warm the heart of any loyal fan – and that includes.

Whitney Houston: I want to dance with someone

bottom line

higher love.

release date: Friday 23 December
ejaculate: Naomi Aki, Stanley Tucci, Tamara Tunney, Nafsa Williams, Clark Peters, Ashton Sanders
exit: Casey Lemons
screenwriter: Anthony McCarten

Rated PG-13, 2 hours 24 minutes

The other major asset here is Naomi Ackie’s honest and soulful performance in the title role. While she bears no close resemblance to Houston, she embodies the late singer’s brilliance, whether he was commanding the stage or keeping a low profile. The British actress skillfully removes the distance separating the troubled star from the public. It’s up to the humble Everywoman – in the sense of Chaka Khan’s cover and the relatable jersey girl feel who’s made the necessary adjustments to live with global fame despite not being entirely comfortable with it.

The decision to stick almost exclusively with expertly remastered versions of Houston’s original vocal tracks was exactly the right one. Accie is by all accounts a capable singer. She can be heard briefly at choir rehearsals at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark with Houston’s tough mom, Sissy (Tamara Tunney, awesome); performing backup in her mother’s act at Sweetwater’s in New York City; and singing solo at the same club in the spooky opening bars of “The Greatest Love of All,” when Sissy makes the clever move of pushing her daughter onto the stage on her own after spotting Arista Records boss Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci) in the audience.

Ackie and the music production team make the transition to the roof-raising sound of Houston smooth as she quickly finds her self-confidence. The lip-synching throughout is flawless, but there’s no doubt that Ackie sings under the dubs — she lives and breathes every song.

The thing is, you can’t do Whitney Houston’s lively drama without Whitney Houston’s voice. No one could match her expression, her lung strength, and her seemingly effortless, mountain-climbing major changes when she was at her peak. There’s an infectious verve in her dances—I swear, I struggled not to jump out of my seat when a crushing cut leaps into “How Will I Know”—and a soul-stirring feeling in her songs.

Andrew Dosonmou Fictional Biography for Netflix, Beauty, written by Lena Waithe, had many admirable qualities, particularly in its candor about the star’s sexuality. But the daring gambit of making a movie where everyone keeps raving about an unusual singing voice we’ve never heard left a huge hole in the picture.

How this film exhilarates sheer talent even while tracing personal tragedy makes it easy to live with the traditional limitations of McCarten’s screenplay, which doesn’t escape the familiar “and then this happened” wiki-page structure. But there are two musical options, in particular, that give I wanna Dance With Somebody Its satisfactory narrative form.

One is a 1983 TV appearance on The Merv Griffin Show in which Davis introduced Houston to patriotic audiences, as he sang “Home” from Wizbefore her debut album was recorded. It sets up a theme of longing to solidify the stability of love, family, and belonging that will continue to slip from her grasp as her fame skyrockets.

The other is the framing device for a memorable performance at the 1993 American Music Awards, in which Houston sang what is known as “The Impossible Medley.” It consists of three songs, any one of which would be enough challenge for many accomplished singers – “I Love You, Porgy” from Porgy and Bess; “And I’m telling you I’m not going” from dream girls; and Houston’s hit song from that year, “I Don’t Have Any”.

With sadness steadily magnified in the final scenes, Lemmons observes Houston’s restlessness as she prepares to perform, against her team’s advice, at Davis’ 2012 pre-Grammys gala. But the director makes the restrained decision to turn away from the singer’s final hours descending into an AMA performance, which has been completely reworked, allowing the film to close on a triumphant high rather than a glowing light-brushed desolation.

This endearing gesture does not diminish the credibility with which the film depicts Houston’s struggles with drugs. Her troubled marriage to Bobbi Brown (moon light Discovery Ashton Sanders), who brushed off signs of debilitating fatigue and encouraged her to keep touring; the betrayal of her father, John (Clark Peters), who mismanaged her business and then sued her for $100 million when she took away his control; and backlash called her music “not black enough”.

Perhaps the most poignant thread is the spontaneous flowering of her early relationship with Robyn Crawford (Nafsa Williams), which depicts Houston’s relatively uncomplicated acceptance of her sexuality, gradually overcome by her gay family’s disapproval and pressure to deliver a healthy “girl.” next door” at the start of her career. Robyn glimpsing her eyes at Whitney’s music video makeover — swapping jeans, a sweatshirt, and short hair for short dresses, Barbie makeup and curls — is a sweet moment.

Their early scenes together, played beautifully by Ackie and Williams, are breezy, relaxed and sexy, with the cut between them conveying the underlying impact Crawford might have had had the romance not been suppressed.

Crawford remained a trusted friend until cohabitation with Brown in Houston’s life became impossible; The resulting split was heartbreaking, since Robyn seems to be the more consistent character always looking out for Whitney’s best interests.

Huston’s parents are portrayed as the main force behind Crawford’s sidelining, as Davis made a point to stay out of his artists’ private lives. (There may be some dispensation here, given that he’s a producer.) Reexamined from a contemporary perspective—now that more gay celebrities feel free to come out—it’s a sad irony that all of this happened under Davis’ watch. The late-life record label exec’s own emergence as a gay man is treated with a delightfully light touch in Tucci’s heartwarming performance.

McCarten and Lemons are careful not to portray Houston in blunt terms as a victim. Her decision to marry Brown is shown to be her own, motivated in part by a desire to start a family, while his drug use began long before her marriage. The filmmakers make a great choice to step away from the Bravo train crash scene Being Bobby Brownarguably the nadir of celebrity reality television, which turned Houston at one of its weakest points into a ruthless pop culture nerd.

Most of the events here—related to the downside and success of Houston’s string of back-to-back number one hits and history-making album sales—will be familiar to anyone who watched Kevin McDonald’s excellent 2018 doc, Whitney.

Lemmons’ film was most illuminating in showing how much Houston’s instincts about what was appropriate for her voice influenced her rise. It’s that instinct that fuels her non-regret response when the interviewer talks about the “too white” criticism leveled by the black radio networks. Although she didn’t write her own songs, she clearly had a great ear for what worked for her, particularly in reinventing Dolly Parton’s tender “I Will Always Love You” as a soulful power ballad for the soundtrack. Bodyguard.

Attention to Huston’s film career is largely confined to his 1992 screen debut, with a few sloppy cuts to a frame or two of Kevin Costner during filming. But nothing feels weak. There’s an emotional amplitude in the retelling of Houston’s life, one that gives us a soaring engagement about her coronation at 23 years old as America’s princess of pop and an overwhelming investment in the lamentation of her years of struggles, as drugs, exhaustion and the pressure to “do everything for everyone” took their toll.

Critics will sniff out, as they always do, the familiar conventions of music biographies. But spirit I wanna Dance With Somebody He transgresses those conventions more often than burdens them. Anyone who loves Whitney Houston and her music will leave the movie with that love reinforced – especially anyone who watched it in a theater with a wall-vibrating sound system.

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