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Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody

The Magic, The Joy 

Year: 2022 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Kasi Lemmons 
Starring: Stanley Tucci, Naomi Ackie, Tamara Tunie  
An image from Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody


A celebration of the myriad of achievements over a long and successful career, I Wanna Dance With Somebody takes the viewer through the life and times of the infamous singing talent, Whitney Houston. Another in a recent string of biopics for musical superstars, the film explores Houston’s humble beginnings in 1980s New Jersey, being discovered by record executive Clive Davis (played by Stanley Tucci) before charting her rise to fame. Experienced through the lens of her career, weaving through her vast library of music and artistry, it also covers her difficult marriage to Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders), her much-examined “friendship” with Robyn Crawford (Nafessa Williams), her substance abuse problems and tragic death in 2012.

The music is where the film shines – whilst the breadth of experience in Houston’s 48 years of life is difficult to distil into a couple of hours on screen, the music speaks of the undeniable majesty of Houston’s career and achievements.

The film features a wide range of favourites from Houston’s repertoire, using the original vocals with expert lip-syncing by lead actress, Naomi Ackie. This strays from the tradition of some recent biopics; Elton John biopic Rocketman, for example, featured the rock giant’s tracks re-recorded with the voice of lead actor, Taron Egerton; similarly, Bohemian Rhapsody featured unique combinations of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, lead actor Rami Malek, and prominent Queen cover artist Marc Martel’s vocals blended together. Whilst this is not the case in I Wanna Dance with Somebody, the unfiltered inclusion of the original vocals gives the film soundtrack the thrilling familiarity and authenticity of hearing certified bangers that you know and love against a narrative and dramatic context that we don’t normally get to experience them in.

Anna Taylor

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Screenings of this film:

2022/2023 Spring Term (digital)
2022/2023 Spring Term (digital)