Whitney: Can I Be Me?

Watched: 11 September

I had convinced myself that Nick Broomfield’s documentaries would be better without the director’s numerous intrusions, but now I wonder whether the various appearances that he makes in his most famous films, which are by their nature rather provocative, are key to the sparkiness and the controversy the documentaries generated at the time, and thus directly related to how interesting they actually are. His most widely-seen films about fetishes, Heidi Fleiss, Biggie and Tupac and Kurt and Courtney are all more entertaining than this sympathetic, well-constructed but ultimately unremarkable documentary about the life and tragic death of Whitney Houston, which is fine and respectful but lacking a little… I dunno… nosiness and accusation? There are revelations about Houston’s sexuality and – if you’re someone like me who didn’t really pay much attention to her career or her private life – the extent of her addictions, but there seems to be a restraint here that isn’t typical of Broomfield’s other more populist work; I dunno, maybe the sensitive approach is something that indicates a late-period maturity from this prolific filmmaker. (***)

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