She dominated the 80's and 90s with her soulful pop, arguably she performed America's greatest rendition of "Star Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl, and her song "I will always love you" remains the best selling song by a female artist of all time. Whitney Houston - singer and actress, famous for her voice as well as her bubbly personality - is being placed in the spotlight by director Kevin MacDonald. This documentary dives into the tragic life of worldwide superstar Whitney Houston and her legacy beyond pop music.
Whitney is an utterly haunting whilst simultaneously beautiful, uplifting and brutally honest portrayal of the musical icon. Though the documentary highlights Whitney Houston's fall from grace as well as her tragic end - MacDonald reminds us throughout how her joy, empowerment and natural beauty left its mark in the music industry as well as modern society. Despite the film maintaining a sombre tone there is exuberant life bursting out - the incomparable "I wanna dance with somebody" music video cutting joyfully at intervals between some quite heartbreaking real life footage. The contrast of these extremes creates a striking image of Houston's spirit fighting vainly against the creeping, coming darkness that ultimately engulfed her.
Fundamentally the editing is handled with such poise and sophistication, crafting symbols and images that are outstanding as they are important - enabling Whitney to become one of the most compelling pieces of cinema this year.
Chiefly Whitney tackles the big subjects head on - MacDonald raises extremely tough questions in between the interview segments of the feature, comparing her greatest struggles with her greatest achievements. He understands that in order for us to empathise with Whitney the person we must experience the harsh and brutal realities of her life - and not paint her just as the pop princess the media has done for so many years. The documentary plays as a somewhat neutral point of view - MacDonald extracts information from various Houston family members and close friends including her ex-husband - they comment on her actions from their own subjective point of view, voicing wether they agreed with her decisions or not. Even though the film is made in her honour, she had serious issues and MacDonald has no trouble in facing them.
Whitney is the poetic story of one of America's greatest modern icons. MacDonald creates an artistic film that appears far more than a history lesson, exploring how one individual's life can be affected by fame as well as the personal issues of surrounding family members. Obviously the film is agonising but with the help of many moments of footage from Houston's greatest performances as well as spine-tingling sections of "I wanna dance with somebody" - Whitney is heartening and uplifting as it needs to be.
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.