For all the 80’s kids the music talent of that era was huge. I mean there was, just to name a few, Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, George Michael (Wham!) and Whitney Houston. Whitney Houston; the artist that had more consecutive number ones than the Beatles or Elvis Presley. That’s seven consecutive number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Seven! Everyone knows a Whitney Houston song and one of the most popular 80s songs that’s still played today on any dance floor is I Wanna Dance With Somebody; the name of the Whitney Houston biopic directed by Kasi Lemmons starring British actor Naomi Ackie.
The film flows swiftly and easily through the trials and tribulations of Whitney Houston’s life like it’s a sweet candy bar. Brushing lightly on topics of drug use, her sexual relationship with close friend Robyn Crawford, her music being too ‘white’ and not ‘black’ enough and the tumultuous marriage to Bobby Brown. While the film is over two hours and has much to cover it keeps you interested, though at times it could have further delved into the issues that were at the heart of her struggles.
Ackie as Whitney Houston competently portrays Whitney’s essence but it’s hard to ignore that she looks nothing like the iconic artist. On occasions nailing it and at other times being way off the mark. It’s understandable that it’s not easy to channel someone as prolific as Whitney Houston but having said that, the performance doesn’t deter from the film’s message.
Tamara Tunie plays Whitney’s gospel singer mother with Clarke Peters as John Houston the hard lined manager father and Nafessa Williams plays the ever-loyal Robyn Crawford who battles with husband Bobby Brown played by Aston Sanders. The standout performance of Stanley Tucci as Arista records boss Clive Davis gives I Wanna Dance With Somebody the credibility it so desperately needs and while the film tells us about her life in sequence it lacks a little in warmth.
For so long she was America’s sweetheart and it’s sad to see a talent so great spiral out of control and fans of Whitney Houston will either love it or be left a little short changed. Her story is told and that’s about it. While it doesn’t entirely disappoint, it’s definitely worth seeing for the sheer reason alone that Whitney Houston was the greatest singer of her generation, The Voice.
Movie Review By Anastasia Lambis