Noun: Whitney Houston: I want to dance with someone
exit: Casey Lemon
Throw: Naomi Ackee
The film begins in 1983 New Jersey before executives discover 20-year-old Houston at a local show. But before that, we get a glimpse of young Whitney (Naomi Aki) performing in the church choir while also mentoring us from her mother, famous gospel singer Sissy (Tamara Tunney). On the other hand, her father John (Clark Peters) is the street manager, who would later go on to run her business as she turns into one of America’s greatest entertainers. An important part of Whitney’s early life also focuses on her first meeting with Robyn Crawford (Nafsa Williams), with whom Houston eventually begins a relationship but who later reverts to the role of friend and manager. After being signed by Arista Records head Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci) as an artist, the film follows Houston’s growing attraction, the backlash she faces for “not being black enough” with her music as well as her turbulent personal life after her marriage to Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders). Capturing her rise to the top, the film chronicles her bad events as she deals with drug addiction.
Whitney Houston was an artist whose voice could create magic in a way that would make you cry with her soulful numbers and make you dance like no one was watching with her heavy numbers. The vocal range that Houston handled was simply unparalleled, so all the accolades and accolades she’s received in her career remain iconic, and while it’s a legacy worth celebrating, making a biopic that puts all its focus on that might be a bit unfair. Whitney’s life was mired in controversy throughout, and unfortunately, her stardom also coincided with a time in America when tabloid press and celebrity gossip became the new norm. The singer’s life has previously been the subject of documentaries, and in her latest attempt, director Cassie Lemon is trying to celebrate the icon again but hasn’t quite succeeded in doing so.
The thing about Whitney Houston: I Want to Dance With Someone who seems most discontented is how loosely he deals with schedules. While Whitney’s musical contributions are deservedly celebrated, the film never really delves into the person behind the artist. The film feels like a retelling of an artist’s journey from massive success to tragic end without making it a personal tale. While the film delivers on every front when recreating Houston’s standout moments, only the difficult parts of her life are touched upon. Media criticism, discussions about her sexuality, and her trysts with addiction are elements that are inserted between them but are not properly addressed throughout the film.
Moments that stand out in the film include a re-enactment of Whitney’s Super Bowl performance as well as a finale mix. Listening to the remastered versions of her songs is an absolute pleasure. Knowing all too well how tragically the film ends, every performance feels special and Naomi Ackie ensures she gives her best in every scene. It’s especially cool how Ackie will be able to make you cry in the scene where she captures Houston’s performance on Oprah.
If there’s one thing this movie absolutely stands out, it’s the casting. Not only does Ackie give a heartfelt performance, but there’s also a solid supporting cast of Stanley Tucci, Tamara Tunney and Clark Peters who elevate the film’s script above its potential. The scenes between Ackie and Tunie are the ones to watch out for and the way they flesh out the complex mother-daughter dynamic is noteworthy. Tucci gives a subtle performance as Houston’s manager who takes a shine to the scene where he confronts her about her drug use.
Whitney Houston: I want to dance with someone who has a problem that most biopics do today because they don’t know exactly how to be completely honest about their subject. The film finds a way to tell Huston’s story when it could have taken a deeper approach given her outsized personality and the turbulent life she led. Instead, the movie shines a light on the demons Huston battled while living in the spotlight.
- Naomi Ackie’s emotionally charged performance.
- Strong performance by the support team
- Brilliant re-creation of Whitney’s greatest performances with re-mastered songs.
For those who loved Whitney Houston, this biopic will become a great watch as you can hear her greatest hits blast across the movie screen with Naomi Ackie doing them absolute justice while lip-synching. Houston’s glorious musical legacy is not to be forgotten and to remind you of that, this movie works from its core. But from a critical perspective, if your expectations of an icon’s biopic were too long, this movie will disappoint you.
Also read: The Whitney Houston Biopic, I Want to Dance With Somebody for a December release
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