I Wanna Dance With Somebody review: PR piece only tells half the story

Twenty years later, America’s emaciated ex-girlfriend was found dead in a bathtub at a Beverly Hills hotel. What went so wrong?

For the curious, there are two documentaries. The most recent, Whitney from 2018, attributed her drug addiction to childhood traumas: sexual abuse by her cousin and her mother Cissy’s affair with her church minister.

None of that appears in this brilliant biopic. As Pat Houston, Whitney’s sister-in-law, executor of her estate and one of the producers of this film, explained to the industry weekly Variety, her job is to manage the singer’s “brand” by “taking advantage of the opportunities that her gift continually presents.” “. in the best light.

So ahead of the release of two new live albums, we have a talented actress (Naomi Ackie) lip syncing to Whitney’s greatest hits for nearly two and a half hours.

In between, we have well-acted but unconvincing dramatic interludes. Stanley Tucci plays music mogul Clive Davis (another of the film’s producers) as a saintly figure who helps Whitney find the songs that best suit her God-given talent. The music industry has never looked so healthy.

Her mother Cissy, a singer who never made it, is another guiding light.

As the action begins shortly before Whitney was signed to Davis’ record label, there are no glimpses of her childhood. The film also addresses Whitney’s highly publicized lesbian relationship with Robyn Crawford (Nafessa Williams) and her stormy marriage to Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders).

As her life falls apart, cocaine, cannabis and other harmful substances lead to unkempt hair and bad press. But these feel like unfortunate accidents that could have happened to anyone. An excellent Ackie reminds us of Whitney’s talents as a performer, but she plays an icon, not a human being.

I Wanna Dance With Somebody is in theaters from Boxing Day (certified 12A).

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