The tempestuous life and sad death of pop diva Whitney Houston get an exhaustive documentary treatment from British director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), who follows the lead of Asif Kapadia’s Amy (about Amy Winehouse) by doing his best to implicate Houston’s family and friends in her downfall. Houston’s personal assistant alleges that, as a child, Whitney was sexually abused by her grown cousin, the singer Dee Dee Warwick, and others accuse her father, John Russell Houston Jr., of embezzling money from her. A superstar at 21, Houston traveled the familiar showbiz path of isolation, addiction, and overdose, surrounded by sycophants but deeply unsure of herself. Macdonald presses his interview subjects for details about her intimate relationships (particularly Robyn Crawford, her childhood friend and loyal assistant, and Bobby Brown, her doomed-to-be-a-punch-line husband) but only hints at the social context of her stardom (at the height of her fame, Reverend Al Sharpton mocked her as “Whitey Houston”).
R • 2 hours • 2018