07.06.2018

HUB FILM REVIEW: Whitney

HUB FILM REVIEW:  Whitney

By Michael P Coleman

In 1988, Whitney Houston released “Where Do Broken Hearts Go,” one of a series of stirring  ballads for which she would be remembered.  As her seventh consecutive single to reach the top of Billboard’s Hot 100, “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” set a record for Houston that stands today. 

That’s one of several factoids presented in the riveting, revelatory new documentary Whitney

whitney untoldstoryInterspersing archival footage, home videos, and new interviews with Houston’s family, friends, and colleagues, Whitney paints a revealing portrait of a troubled ingenue whose most formidable demon, according to her infamous 2003 interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, was herself. 

You’ve probably already heard about the documentary’s biggest reveal: that a pre-teen Houston was allegedly abused sexually by her cousin Dee Dee Warwick, the late sister of the legendary Dionne Warwick.  Even so, the film offers several more, not the least of which is the tale of a drug-addicted Houston abandoning her infant daughter Bobbi Kristina, leaving her with a family friend for eight years. 

As joyous as it is to see Houston in her heyday, as a fresh faced teenager delivering a bravura performance of “Home” from The Wiz on The Mike Douglas Show, or belting out the definitive version of The Star Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl, it’s disheartening — no, it’s downright painful — to see a battered, beleaguered Houston gasp, choke, and yell her way through another of her signature anthems, Greatest Love Of All, during her final tour in 2011.   Having come from a show business family, Houston was undoubtedly living by the time-worn show business axiom “the show must go on.”  As footage of Houston’s final tour suggests, sometimes the show needs to end. 

While Houston’s last film, Sparkle, gave us a glimmer of what might have been the show business comeback of the century, the legend was tragically found dead in a bathtub at a Hollywood hotel at the age of 48 just before the film’s premiere.  Houston’s decline is meticulously documented in Whitney, and the movie’s final third is agonizing to watch.  But overall, Whitney does a good job of trying to burnish the star’s legacy. 

Where do broken hearts go?  30 years later, we finally have the answer:  to see this excellent new film.

Miss you, Nippy. 

Whitney is in theaters nationwide. 

 Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.