Documentary on the rise and tragic demise of pop diva Whitney Houston. Directed by Kevin Macdonald. Opens Friday at Cineplex Varsity, Queensway and Eglinton City Centre theatres. 120 minutes. 14A
Whitney Houston simply wished to bop with anyone who cherished her. However life moved too quick for the tragic pop diva.
That’s the primary takeaway of Whitney, a documentary by Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald (Touching the Void). It helps clarify how a churchgoing gospel singer from suburban New Jersey, at all times prepared with a shy smile, turned a worldwide celebrity within the 1980s and ’90s — solely to yield to a raging cocaine habit and different private demons that left her lifeless at age 48 in an L.A. lodge bathtub in 2012.
Houston’s equally troubled daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, would even be discovered unconscious in a shower three years later. She died a number of months later at age 22.
The movie consists of no less than one main revelation, uncovered by Macdonald by means of exhaustive interviews with Houston’s household and mates: she was sexually molested as a baby by her cousin Dee Dee Warwick, the sister of pop singer Dionne Warwick.
Houston’s half-brother Gary Garland was additionally molested by Dee Dee, who died in 2008. The allegations have been confirmed on digital camera by Mary Jones, Houston’s aunt and private assistant, the lady who discovered Whitney’s physique in a Beverly Hilton Lodge bathtub.
Jones stated Houston confided in her concerning the intercourse crime however by no means spoke of it to her domineering mom, soul singer Cissy Houston, for concern of scandalizing the household. The abuse made Whitney doubt her sexual orientation — years later, as an grownup, she’d have a quick sexual liaison with Robyn Crawford, her greatest pal and worker — and the consensus is her disastrous marriage to R&B singer Bobby Brown was partially an try to show she wasn’t homosexual or bisexual.
Macdonald barely mentions Houston’s drug use within the first half of the two-hour movie, as he paperwork an adolescence that was something however the typical Hollywood hard-luck story: residing along with her dad and mom, two brothers and a cat named Misty Blue in a home with a pool in Orange, N.J., the place she attended a non-public Catholic women’ college. Houston was often called “Nippy” to her household and mates, a nickname given her by her civil servant father John, whom she adored.
The one obvious early signal of hassle was the reward her brother Michael gave her on her 16th birthday: an introduction to each marijuana and cocaine, which she instantly determined she cherished.
Houston was keen to make use of the magnificent multi-octave voice she felt God had given her, so she left residence at age 18 and briefly (however reluctantly) pursued a modelling profession earlier than being signed by Arista Information to make Whitney Houston, the 1985 album that made her not only a star, however a record-setting one. It yielded a number of hits, together with “How Will I Know” and “Saving All My Love for You,” and was heralded as one of many bestselling debut albums by a girl in historical past.
However she had many doubts and fears. In an archival interview that opens the movie, Houston speaks of a recurring nightmare of being chased by an enormous who represents a number of of the private demons she’d must vanquish in life: “After I get up, I’m at all times exhausted from operating,” she says.
Extra chart-toppers and a film profession would comply with, the latter together with the 1992 smash The Bodyguard, a romantic drama during which she co-starred with Kevin Costner, and which yielded the monster hit “I Will At all times Love You.”
However that very same 12 months she’d marry Brown, whom she’d met on the 1989 Soul Prepare Awards, the place she was infamously booed by an viewers that thought of her music “too white” — a knock she endured all through her profession and which she took very personally.
Brown was jealous and possessive — he admits within the movie he was “immodest on the time” — and Houston made her profession secondary to taking part in the function of spouse to Bobby and mom to Bobbi, her solely baby.
She was briefly comfortable, however not for lengthy. Profession reversals, vocal troubles, a bitter divorce and a comeback tour that wasn’t all took a toll, magnified by the drug and alcohol addictions Houston was unable to shake, regardless of stints in rehab.
Drowning prompted by coronary heart illness and cocaine intoxication was the coroner’s official cause for Houston’s demise, however her household and mates interviewed in Whitney all appear to assume that it was her incapacity to reconcile herself along with her twin personalities as candy Nippy from New Jersey and celebrity Whitney who dominated the pop world.
“In case you can’t know who you’re, nothing’s gonna prevent,” certainly one of them says.