When Whitney Houston died in 2012 at just age 48 it wasn’t just the death of a music legend it was the death of a woman that had changed the musical landscape forever. When Houston entered the music industry with her career it was assumed that she would become an R&B star but instead her music fell more into the pop realm.
She was one musician where it felt that every part of her personal life was also played out in the media but as this new documentary from filmmaker Nick Broomfield (Kurt & Courtney, Biggie & Tupac) shows there was a lot of things going on behind the scenes that even the hardened Houston fans wouldn’t have known about.
The power of Whitney: Can I Be Me lays in Broomfield’s near investigative journalistic style of filmmaking. Broomfield takes the things that fans near about Houston, like the drug addiction, and goes right in behind the scenes to find out where it all began and what started it all. Like a hound on the scent of a rabbit Broomfield uncovers more and more as he goes on, including hidden relationships and the reasons why Houston was never admitted into rehab. Even things such as the black community turning their back on Houston and her music may be a shock to Australian fans as it was something that was not really spoken about here.
Teaming up with Broomfield here is fellow director Rudi Dolezal (Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury Himself) who provides some amazing concert footage of Houston doing what she does best. His backstage footage of Houston with her team and entourage also helps put together some of the jigsaw puzzle pieces that Broomfield throws onto the table as well. This alongside some of the candid moments that Broomfield presents with the home footage of Houston and her family and friends make for a very intimate documentary indeed.
The only weakness in the entire docco is perhaps the fact that while Broomfield brings many controversial things to light during the film he completely bypasses any of the theories about Houston and Bobby Brown’s relationship becoming abusive. With no mentions of it at all, you can only wonder what Broomfield was thinking leaving out such an important part of Houston’s controversial life.
Whitney: Can I Be Me is a heartfelt docco that takes a look at the tragic life of a modern day pop star. Broomfield reveals a side to Houston that nobody outside of her own entourage knew and the result is an excellent documentary that takes you to the very heart of Houston.