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.
Continue reading: Whitney: Can I Be Me Review
Whitney Houston, the woman behind the 1992 number one hit cover of 'I Will Always Love You', was without doubt one of the finest voices in the history of pop music having won nearly 250 awards in her career including 7 Grammys. Unfortunately that was the problem. She was only ever seen as this brilliant talent, a commodity for her record label. This was a woman who struggled with the pressures of fame in a business that refused to let her be her true self, to find her own identity, and ultimately destroyed her.
As if she didn't have enough in her life to contend with, such as her passionate yet turbulent relationship with Bobby Brown. She did have people looking out for her including PA Robyn Crawford, but it wasn't enough in the end to save her from her tragic fate. At just 48-years-old, she drowned in the bathtub of her hotel after a cocaine and prescription drug binge. It was a shocking end to woman who only ever wanted to entertain since she was a child singing in a New Jersey church choir. But as much as it was her passion and her identity, it was also her downfall.
'Can I Be Me' is a heartbreaking documentary echoing a haunting sentiment that Whitney Houstin continually expressed. It has been directed by the award-winning Nick Broomfield ('Kurt & Courtney', 'Biggie And Tupac') alongside Austrian filmmaker Rudi Dolezal. It features plenty of live performance and interview footage from the legend herself as well as new interviews with those who knew her and those who admired her including her mother Cissy Houston.
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Continue reading: Kurt & Courtney Review