British filmmaker Nick Broomfield has popularised a particular strain of investigative journalism, shining a light into the murkier corners of celebrated lives in films such as Kurt & Courtney (1998), Biggie and Tupac (2002) and Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003). In Whitney: Can I Be Me, he takes his cue from Asif Kapadia’s Amy (2015) in documenting the tragic rise and fall of the gifted New Jersey singer through choice archive footage and to-camera interviews.
Broomfield structures the film around three key relationships in Houston’s life: the controlling figure of her gospel singing mother, Cissy, her close bond with personal assistant Robyn Crawford, which was widely rumoured to be more than a friendship, and the toxic, drug-fuelled marriage to bad-boy rapper Bobby Brown.
(Notes by David O’Mahony.)
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