This well-crafted documentary about the life and career of Whitney Houston is the work of Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald (One Day in September, The Last King of Scotland).

Macdonald aims to reach beyond the tabloid image of Houston, an iconic artist with more chart and sales records than there's room for here, made more impressive by being African American and a woman.

Her mother and fellow singer, Cissy Houston, considers what made Houston special was her ability to sing from her heart, mind and diaphragm - all at once. Oh, and Cissy teaching her everything she knew.

Beyond the singing, the focus is on Houston's journey to superstardom, which soared after staring in The Bodyguard with Kevin Costner, and how fame meant she was never allowed to be herself.

Advertisement

Houston's family play a large role in the film, other than her father, who died in 2003 after suing his daughter for $100 million. The brothers nonchalantly admit they introduced Houston to drugs as a teenager - hey, it was the 80s and everyone was doing it.
Also covered is her relationship with dear friend and presumed lover Robyn Crawford, and marriage to Bobby Brown.

This is a documentary filed with talking heads, lightly discussing everything from her reaction to being booed at the Soul Train Awards to her ability as a mother to Bobbi Kristina Brown, and is slickly presented, cohesive and moving.

That is, if you haven't already seen Nick Bromfield's documentary Whitney: Can I Be Me released last year. Most of the material in Whitney was covered in the earlier film, which had the added benefit of access to behind-the scenes-footage of the singer's private moments.

Interestingly, neither film-maker was able to get Robyn Crawford on film – probably the one person who can provide more insight on the life and times of Whitney Houston.

Macdonald does, however, reveal one dark secret about Whitney's childhood that will, ironically, be fodder for the tabloids.


Cast: Cissy Houston, Clive Davis
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Running Time: 120 mins
Rating: M (Offensive language)
Verdict: A moving, well rounded celebration of an incredible talent.