Whitney – Film Review by Frank L.
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Stars: Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown, Bobbi Kristina Brown
Whitney Houston bestrode the world of popular music in the eighties and nineties. Macdonald (King of Scotland 2006) has had the co-operation of the Houston estate in making this film and as a result he has interviews with her mother Cissy Houston, her husband Bobby Brown, and her brother along with those involved in the entertainment business.
It starts with Cissy Houston, who was a back up singer to many of the greats, in the church where Houston’s singing career began talking about Whitney. There are flashbacks to her first television performance and her stellar rise to fame with hit albums one after another. As a solo female singer she was in a category all of her own. But while charting the successes Macdonald delves into the fractured personal relationships which surrounded her and the challenges which her immediate family and the entertainment entourage in which they moved. These included her introduction to drugs at about sixteen years of age by her siblings. There is also an allegation of child sexual molestation with the perpetrator named. These matters are fed into the script as Macdonald begins to chart her decline.
Her brothers are completely dismissive of her friendship from school with Robyn Crawford which ended when she married Bobby Brown. It was a poor choice. His contribution to the movie is negligible as he does not answer the questions he is asked but his own less than impressive behaviour is outlined. Notwithstanding her gargantuan professional success there does not appear to have been anyone close to her who could have helped her as her own personal problems with drugs multiplied.
Macdonald, with access to so many individuals who knew her, has made a fine documentary. Professionally Whitney was in a different stratosphere to all around her but in her personal world she was alone fighting with her inner devils. It is not an unfamiliar story in the world of music entertainment but Macdonald makes it into an engrossing film.