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Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody (2022) | Review

By Jana Neimanns

Rating: 5/5

Courtesy of IMDb

Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody is a powerful new movie that tells the story of one of the most popular singers of the 20th century. The two-and-a-half-hour-long musical drama was written by Anthony McCarten and directed by Kasi Lemmons. It stars the very talented Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston, and the British actress gives an extremely authentic and vulnerable performance.

The musical opens with a young Whitney, who dreams of having a successful music career. She starts small, singing in church with her mother and siblings, but her career takes off from there. The movie follows Whitney’s incredible journey of stardom, revealing to the audience how Whitney became popular enough to be referred to as ‘America’s sweetheart.’ Whitney’s personal struggles are also depicted in the film, as her parents are very strict and push her to be ‘perfect’ to fit into societal standards. Notably, they criticize Whitney’s queer relationship with her assistant, Robyn. The movie emphasizes Whitney’s struggle with her sexuality, as she was not able to be openly gay. In part due to her parents’ criticism, the drama shows Whitney struggling with the immense pressure to look, act and sing perfectly at all times. Things take an unfortunate turn when she begins using drugs in order to escape the stress. This movie depicts her drug addiction quite well, in my opinion, and it also touches on other important facets of her life, like her marriage to Bobby Brown.

While Naomi Ackie plays Whitney Houston in the movie, the songs are still sung by Whitney herself. Ackie played the role of Whitney believably and is a fantastic actress. Whitney Houston‘s story is as powerful as it is tragic, so I’m thankful the actress conveyed all the emotions honestly. The way Ackie lip-synced to Whitney’s songs also looked very authentic. Ackie also had to learn all the choreography for Whitney’s music videos and concerts, which meant there was a lot of dancing in the movie as well.

Seeing as the film is a musical drama, the story is centred around Whitney’s life as well as her songs. The movie shows in detail how some of her most popular songs were made. These songs include How Will I Know, I Wanna Dance with Somebody and her 1994 AMA performance medley. As someone who has loved these songs forever, it was interesting to see how Whitney chose each one with her producer, Clive. As an audience member, you get to see the songs before Whitney performs them and after she performs them, and it is an incredible after.

Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody is a must-watch for me. It shows her career success in chronological order while also highlighting the negative aspects of becoming famous. Most importantly, the movie shows a black woman fulfilling her dreams and bringing more representation to the music industry. Overall, the movie shows Whitney’s love for music and showcases the joy present in her songs. This movie will be great for all music fans out there and promises a good time for each viewer.


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