Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. /USA, , , Screenplay by Cinematography by Produced by , , Music by Film Editing by Cannes Film Festival 2018.
A second Whitney Houston documentary after Nick Broomfield already ticked off a number of boxes with his film seems unnecessary, but thanks to a higher budget and access to her friends and family, Kevin Macdonald’s take on Houston’s life and career features a great deal more insight and production value. With appearances by Houston’s mother Cissy, her brothers, her aunts, closest friends and colleagues, Macdonald situates the princess of pop’s career within the major events of the eighties and describes her rise from the tough streets of Newark towards a career that showed off one of the most impressive voices ever to achieve international fame. Houston’s relationship with friend Robyn Crawford is once again subjected to a great deal of speculation and, as with Broomfield’s film, the audience is left to make up their own mind about the nature of their connection; in fact, there’s not too much in the way of information that you didn’t already get previously, but the films complement each other in terms of what they choose to focus on. Broomfield has a lot more information about her childhood and spends more time on the friction between Crawford and Houston’s husband Bobby Brown (who really achieves a new level of alienating his audiences with his testimony in this one), while Macdonald has explosive revelations about her experience as a victim of sexual assault in her childhood while putting so much more dazzle into his exploration of her hits. There’s a wealth of performance footage from throughout her entire career that is beautifully assembled, and while both films are worth watching, this is the more emotionally affecting of the two.