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396. Whitney; movie review

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Title : 396. Whitney; movie review
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Cert 15
120 mins
BBFC advice: Contains strong language, drug references, references to child sex abuse

As a child, Whitney Houston was sexually abused by Dionne Warwick's sister?!?
There are a dozen stand-out moments in this documentary about the rise and desperate fall of a great talent but none grabbed the attention more than this claim.
Indeed, it flew in the face of contributors having said that Whitney had enjoyed an idyllic childhood, albeit with estranged parents.
Oh, hold on... she also had a brother who introduced her to drugs when she was a teenager.
It appears that Whitney's world was very different to convention and that is why revelatory tangents shoot off with such rapidity from the chronicle of her life.
Kevin MacDonald's documentary delves more deeply into the rise and fall of the singer than any previous film.
This is down to the nearness of the interviewees to the superstar, ranging from her family to her closest aides. 
It also includes home movies of Houston while she was growing up, including footage the early days of public singing at church whose vicar had an affair with her mother. Yep, we are starting to get the picture of why she was unhinged.
From the beginning, her mother, who was a professional singer recognised her daughter's huge talent and tried to coach her into making the most of it.
However, Houston was exploited from the start, led by her money-grabbing father.
Her career is examined as is her bizarre relationships with her husband Bobby Brown and best friend Robyn Crawford.
It appears that MacDonald is attempting to find an explanation for Houston's demise. He reaches no one conclusion but finds contributory factors including the alleged child abuse by her aunt.
Let's be honest, some of his interviewees come out of the movie very badly - notably Brown who refuses to talk about her addictions and the brother who introduced her to drugs.
Houston herself is portrayed as a victim of circumstance who was seen as a meal ticket by many and who could not take the pressure of going from the 'street' to worldwide superstar.
But even she had a better chance of survival than her daughter who was born into the chaos.
Whitney is a movie which reminds us what a brilliant artist Houston was but how briefly her light shone before it became tarnished.
Mrs W and I were engrossed.

Reasons to watch: The real Whitney is finally unveiled
Reasons to avoid: There are a few telling questions left unasked

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 8/10

Director quote - Kevin MacDonald: "There’s a narrative of her self-destruction and her willfulness of destroying her own voice that was hard to sympathize with, but now I feel like I’m able to love her again and I hope the audience does as well."

The big question - What would Whitney be doing now if she hadn't found fame?

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