#REVIEW: “I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY”
Review by Mr. Will Wong
Whitney Houston‘s legacy continues to live on today and though a couple Documentaries and a TV Movie have been released, none have paid tribute to her with the honesty and grandness that her life and career deserves. That is, until Kasi Lemmons’ I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY, hitting theatres right in time for the Holidays.
Told though a Screenplay by Anthony McCarten (Bohemian Rhapsody), the Biopic is a greatest hits of Houston‘s (Naomi Ackie) defining moments, weaving through running storylines which explore her close friendship with mentor Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci); a troubled relationship with her father John (Clarke Peters) who managed her career and mismanaged her wealth; her failed marriage to Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders); and an intense friendship/romance/working relationship with Robyn Crawford (Nafessa Williams).
Though the Film doesn’t offer much new insight that die-hard fans like myself didn’t already know, its commitment to exploring Houston‘s life through an authentic lens is admirable, including the fact that she was romantically-involved with Crawford much to the disapproval of her father. It’s fascinating to know also the inspiration behind why Houston chose specific songs to song based on struggles with love she had been facing in her life. And with Davis producing the Film, we get that verified checkmark that this just might be as close to the truth we’ll ever get to knowing Houston.
I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY isn’t without its problems. Though it places its focus on precisely recreating Houston‘s pinnacle moments like a series of vignettes, it could’ve gone a bit deeper in more meaningfully connecting her pain to her vices, which led ultimately to her tragic downfall. But what it lacks in depth, it more than makes up for in spectacle. It’s thrilling seeing Ackie flourish in the Film’s (perhaps a couple too many) musical performances and her embodying Houston‘s essence when she speaks. She alone is worth the price of admission and the Oscar buzz is completely warranted in what truly is a transcendent performance. Tucci also is remarkable as Davis, balancing both his grandness as a Music Mogul with a caring tenderness.
A wondrous experience which Houston‘s fans absolutely cannot miss.
Sony Pictures Canada release I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY December 22, 2022.