Whitney: Can I Be Me

"Excellent"

Whitney: Can I Be Me Review


Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to tell the story of Whitney Houston's tumultuous life. As the title suggests, what haunted the iconic singer most was an inability to live on her own terms. With strong echoes of 2015's Amy, this film presents a range of never-seen footage without commenting on it.

Broomfield assembles his movie around Dolezal's unfinished documentary about Houston's 1999 world tour, which turned out to be her final triumphant performances. As she travelled the globe, her world was unravelling around her. But the issues go back to her early childhood as a singing prodigy sculpted into a pop princess by her controlling mother, the gospel singer Cissy. And her record company maintained the popstar image. Meanwhile, her personal life was shaped by two key figures: her husband Bobby Brown and her manager-assistant Robyn Crawford, who clashed loudly about who should make decisions about Whitney's life. All of this led to crippling self-doubt, fuelled by a drug habit that had started when Whitney was a teen.

The story is edited out of sequence, circling around Houston's life. Much of the 1999 backstage footage is shockingly intimate, revealing aspects of the singer's personality and relationships with unexpected openness. And since it's accompanied by archive interviews and present-day comments from people who were there, each moment comes with a strong kick of resonance. The most striking interviewee is bodyguard David Roberts, who in 1995 warned the family of coming tragedy if they didn't make changes (he was sacked for speaking out of turn). Most glaringly absent are Brown and Crawford, who have simply refused to clear up the biggest rumours that have surrounded Houston's life, including the one relating to her sexuality.

Without these two important voices, the film feels somewhat incomplete. So questions linger about whether Whitney and Robyn were romantically involved, why Whitney suddenly ended her marriage to Bobby, and why no one reached out to help their daughter Bobbi Kristina (who appears in a number of haunting sequences). Even so, this is a bracingly powerful portrait of how the music industry consumes its artists, forcing them to create an image and stick with it, regardless of who they really are. Houston was a staggeringly talented performer who was never allowed to live on her own terms. And this film shows how she coped by turning to the drink and drugs that took her life at 48 in 2012. And perhaps telling her desperately sad story can help save another artist from the same fate.

Watch the trailer for Whitney: Can I Be Me



Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: , Rudi Dolezal

Producer: , Marc Hoeferlin

Starring: as Herself (Archive Footage), Bobbi Kristina Brown as Herself (Archive Footage), as Himself (Archive Footage), Robyn Crawford as Herself (Archive Footage), John Russell Houston Jr. as Himself (Archive Footage), Cissy Houston as Herself, as Himself, as Himself (Archive Footage) (uncredited), as Himself (Archive Footage) (uncredited), as Himself (Archive Footage) (uncredited), as Herself (Archive Footage) (uncredited)

Contactmusic


Advertisement

New Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.