I recently saw the new movie, Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody. It is amazing how someone comes along and touches our heartstrings and causes us to cry though we have never met the person. I found myself crying during parts of the new movie because I had not allowed myself to actually and adequately grieve this top-selling artist’s passing in 2012.
I think we were too stunned when it happened though we watched her life spiral out of control on the world stage. The cast in the new movie was awesome and once again, we are all reminded that biopics are difficult. I admire actors who are brave enough to take on an icon’s life. Some of the performers may be Oscar-buzz worthy, which was produced by Clive Davis along with her sister-in-law, Pat Houston.
It opens with Whitney Houston (Naomi Ackie) singing in the church as a young teenager who develops a friendship and love for her friend Robyn Crawford (Nafessa Williams). Her mother, Cissie Houston (Tamara Tunie) has a formidable presence throughout the movie and her father (Clarke Peters), once her manager, is there for most of her journey. After she and Robyn are questioned and pressured about their love affair, she meets Jermaine Jackson and then Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders). The young actor has an uncanny resemblance to Bobby Brown and even had the gap between his teeth to boot! He totally channeled him.
We journey through her life from her early hits, The Greatest Love of All to I Wanna Dance with Somebody from the 80’s. She matures and takes on the heavy responsibilities of being everything to everybody as her father spends her money to give others’ lavish lifestyles. She evolves onto the movie sets, and we see parts of The Bodyguard where she miscarried while filming, though she did several other movies. Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci) is her go-to and advises against taking her last world tour which ended in disaster. She was ridiculed because of her lost voice and range. The drugs had taken their toll which she started doing with her brothers when their parents were fighting; however, it grew to epic proportions while married to Bobby Brown.
In her last scene, when she was at the Beverly Hilton for Clive Davis’s party, we all hold our breaths as she sits in the bathroom looking in the mirror. It is unclear whether there was something in her drink from the hotel bar or in the drugs a man slipped her while pretending to ask for an autograph. But they graciously spared us the final scene of her actual death. Instead, they pulled away to a medley concert from her healthier times and showed photographs of the real Whitney Houston throughout her life.
I stood for this great woman as the credits rolled and it was my personal chance to say goodbye, again. But just as tears started to flow, she sang, “Don’t Cry for Me.” She was right when she sang Dreamgirl’s “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” The lyrics say, “No, no, no way, I am living without you. You are going to love me.” I thought, “She is still here.” We do love her, and she is only one click away. Push play and listen to Whitney sing I Look to You while wearing a gown like no other! Remember why she continually steals our hearts today!
December 24, 2022