WHITNEY: CAN I BE ME?
A never-before-seen backstage look at the height of Whitney Houston's stardom, tracing the forces that contributed to her shortened career and subsequent death in 2012, at age 48. The film charts the racism, religion, drugs, sexuality, self-doubt, gossip, rivalry, insufficient training, the demands of parents and the industry, a troubled marriage playing out in headlines, and the inevitable toll those stresses take from so muscular and passionate a singer.
Review by Louise Keller:
It's not as good as Amy, the 2015 knock out documentary about singer Amy Winehouse's life, but there are some potent moments in this film about the supremely talented and complicated Whitney Houston. Moments like black and white footage of 14 year-old Whitney singing in the local Baptist church; personal revelations made in an interview with Diane Sawyer.
Interviews with some of those close to Whitney are intercut with footage on stage and off. Her marriage to bad boy rapper Bobby Brown and rumours of her lesbian relationship with personal assistant Robyn Crawford are closely scrutinised. Yet somehow, we are kept at arms length; we do not feel as though we are in the 'inner circle'.
Whitney: Can I Be Me is a portrayal of a tragedy. The tragedy of the life of a beautiful woman and a talented artist who could not control her demons. It is also a reminder of her legacy: a glorious, supple voice that effortlessly conquers octaves.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The documentary sub genre of 'talented artist / fame & fortune / troubled life ends tragically' is full of singers, painters and musicians who have been abused by fate to achieve success, only to be deprived happiness. Whitney Houston's beautiful voice, attractive face and artistic success guaranteed nothing.
The film collates some wonderfully candid footage as well as contemporary interviews with mother, sister, friend, husband, bodyguard - to convey a life lived dangerously close to disaster. For all its detail, the question still remains as to why she could not be rescued from the typical pitfalls of drugs, for example.
Edited into a cohesive work, the film provides more than a glimpse, less than a complete insight, but it is a fascinating exploration for fans and anyone else interested in the human condition.
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WHITNEY: CAN I BE ME (M)
CAST: Documentary featuring Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown, Robyn Crawford, John Russell Houston Jr, Cissy Houston, David Roberts
PRODUCER: Nick Broomfield, Marc Hoeferlin
DIRECTOR: Nick Broomfield, Rudi Dolezal
SCRIPT: Nick Broomfield
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Sam Mitchell
EDITOR: Marc Hoerfelin
MUSIC: Nick Laird-Clowes
RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 15, 2017