Whitney: Can I Be Me


Documentary / Music

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 86%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 64%
IMDb Rating 6.6 10 2514


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Oprah Winfrey as Herself
Whitney Houston as Herself
Mike Tyson as Himself
Johnny Carson as Himself
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715.05 MB
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1hr 45 min
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1.51 GB
25 fps
1hr 45 min
P/S 10 / 50

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by hc-braendle 3 / 10

Empty promise

"People say, Whitney died from an overdose of drugs. I know, Whitney Houston actually died from a broken heart." What a promising introduction into this documentary, making you wonder about the profound complexity of the background of this tragic death. However, since the - technically well done - film does not address the events during the last 10 years of her life, it is eventually leaving you wondering, without presenting an answer. Did she simply die of a drug overdose anyway? As it turns out, the intriguing prelude was just an empty promise. What a pity!

Reviewed by davideo-2 7 / 10

Fairly impressive, but you can't help but feel it's missed the moment

STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

When world famous recording superstar Whitney Houston died from a drug overdose in February 2012, it sent the showbiz world into chaos and had everyone talking. Director Nick Broomfield examines her life leading up to her death, from her upbringing in the slums of the ghetto, where she first began experimenting with drugs, but also discovered her amazing, soulful voice, that would lead to her conquering the world with her singing, where she harmonised it singing in the choir in the local evangelical church. When she first hit the big time, she first experimented with her sexuality with assistant Robyn Crawford, before settling down with r n' b singer Bobby Brown, which sadly lead to a downward spiral of drink and drugs that ruined it all.

If there are many things Broomfield's documentary misses out on, one salient point it does raise is how unhappy Whitney apparently was with the manufactured, fuzzy commercial pop she was made to sing by her record company, designed to appeal to the mainstream white suburban America that was apparently more likely to buy the records, rather than stuff that was more grounded in her roots, with no one wanting her to become 'the female James Brown.' While these were the tunes that made her famous, it's disconcerting to know she felt so little of it behind the scenes. As if out of some weird respect for this, Broomfield brushes over most of her early back catalogue, and musically, focuses on her 1992 cover of Dolly Parton's I Will Always Love You, from the hit motion picture The Bodyguard.

Another touchy subject that has never received much attention before is her rumoured bisexuality, which is sparingly explored here in the early stages, but what's more revealing is the disdain for such things that exists among, or did exist among, the black community in America at the time, and if Whitney wasn't spurned by her fans or wider society, she would have been by those closer to her. Running under the two hour mark, it's hard not to surmise that Broomfield may have had a lot of missed opportunities, and stuff he neglects to explore or delve into that could have added more substance to the proceedings, and given it a more interesting edge.

It all feels very similar to a lot of what has already been documented about Whitney's personal/private life in TV documentaries and such, and at this late stage it's hard not to feel like you're seeing stuff you've already seen. But it's still a fairly well made and focused documentary of a cultural icon. ***

Reviewed by moonspinner55 5 / 10

"She died of a broken heart."

"Whitney: Can I Be Me", a documentary on the rise and fall of singer-actress Whitney Houston, doesn't have a question-mark in its title because the question is rhetorical--a mantra of Houston's which her crew put on a tape-loop: "C-C-C-Can I Be Me". It's an emblem of the woman who wanted to reclaim herself from the glossy clutches of stardom, goosed by her entourage as an in-joke, something to laugh about as the money from her pop records rolled in. Growing up in strife-ridden Newark, NJ, Whitney was exposed to drugs early on, even with a deeply-religious gospel singer, Cissy Houston, as her mom. With previously-unseen concert and backstage footage from her tour of Germany in 1999 anchoring the film, directors Nick Broomfield and Rudi Dolezal deliver an insider's glimpse into the hectic world of a music star, one who is holding on to her sanity, her status in the industry and her role as a wife and mother with sweaty palms. With best friend and personal assistant Robyn Crawford at odds with Whitney's husband of nine years, Bobby Brown, Houston conveniently ignores the words of warning from a soon-to-be-fired bodyguard that her health is jeopardy. The woman ran herself into the ground, broken further still by her father suing her for a million dollars and a divorce from Brown in 2007. "I began to wait for the call that I eventually got," a loved one states. It was inevitable she would succumb to her addictions and heartbreak, and when Houston died February 2012 at the Beverly Hilton, a pre-awards Grammy bash going on in the same hotel went on without her (not mentioned here). This unexceptional document is a polite way to say goodbye to the singer, with some interesting thoughts from her staff but with no anecdotes or gossip or anything too personal. "I miss her laugh," Crawford writes. But there isn't much laughter showcased here. ** from ****

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