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Review – Whitney: Can I Be Me – “A beautiful – if tragic – study”

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“She changed history for us. And she paid for it.” These are words spoken by singer-songwriter Pattie Howard about her peer Whitney Houston. The “us” she refers to is African American females in the music industry; before the reigns of Beyonce and Rihanna – indeed before they would have even been possible – the trail was blazed by the one and only, the truly global pop superstar, Miss Whitney Houston.

Incorporating unprecedented footage filmed during Whitney’s last successful world tour in 1999, this poignant portrait charts both statements made by Pattie; how Whitney changed the music industry, and how she paid for it. We all know the story, but this film goes behind doors previously closed, mixing footage from Whitney’s life with interviews of those who worked with her, and some of her nearest and dearest.

This isn’t a film you go to see to find out how it ends – we all know the story of the tragic demise. It is a film you go to see because it makes us question a lot of things we otherwise wouldn’t necessarily think to… it makes us reflect on things which need to be reflected upon; the marketing of coloured performers in what was for a long time considered a white industry; the way we identify with superstars; the way we dehumanise them; the way we help our friends when they’re going through a troubled time; the way we live our lives and balance the personal and professional sides… the list goes on.

I won’t lie, this film will leave you feeling emotionally drained and a little low, but it is a beautiful – if tragic – study, not just on the legendary Whitney Houston herself, but also the often harsh reality of fame and happiness. An affecting watch in a world where everyday people are increasingly chasing a seemingly perfect life through online fame.

The film premieres on 11th June and then opens in cinemas on 16th June.

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