02nd Nov2018

‘Whitney’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Kevin Costner, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Bobby Brown, Bobbi Kristina Brown, Clive Davis, Cissy Houston, Debra Martin Chase, Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds | Written and Directed by Kevin Macdonald


Kevin Macdonald’s documentary Whitney is an extraordinarily deep and eye-opening venture into the life of its celebrated, yet, troubled global superstar subject, Whitney Houston. Given invaluable access to home video of the Houston’s library and unseen behind the scenes footage, as well as interviews with those closest to the late superstar.

The access given to Macdonald is unparalleled in terms of depth and insight to that of any documentary on the stars life, even that of Nick Broomfield and Rudi Dolezal’s recent attempt and uncovering the unknown in the 2017 film ‘Whitney: Can I Be Me?’. It is the access to information and knowledge otherwise kept in the dark that highlights the truly inspirational story of the meteor rise that ultimately led to the eventual, somewhat inevitable downfall of a human being that offered the world so much in terms of rich artistic expression but what given so very succinct and scarce endearment and protection from those who she believed to be her saviours.

Via this unearthed information it completely scratches away the horrendous and shameful tabloid headlines of “crack addict wash-up” and showcases the woman that was, in her glory and, yes, in her moments of hurt and distress. The humanisation of such a global superstar isn’t necessarily the easiest achievement to convey, especially given the circumstances around the late star’s antics.

However, much like Asif Kapadia’s mesmerising film on the life of the late Amy Winehouse, both documentaries explore by understanding their subjects which ultimately leads to a complete and clear conviction in what and where things went astray. It would be an understatement to state that Macdonald’s film is eye-opening. Such depth and hurt are uncovered through Houston’s life. Groomed to be such a star from the early days of her life only to be thrown to the side as a means to the financial game for those closest to her and the cracks and scars it causes are disastrous with dire nightmarish torment.

If Whitney succeeds at anything above all else, it is that of giving Whitney Houston the voice to tell her story, even after her death, in full. No compromises. No exceptions. Her life shown from humbled beginnings, stardom, financial excess, comeback and ultimately death. Sprawled out with those closest to her, being her accomplices, her family, her friends and those to blame.

Whitney is out on DVD and Blu-ray now from Altitude Film Distribution.


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