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Waiting To Exhale

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Waiting To Exhale

Starring: Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett
Director: Forest Whitaker
Rated: R
RunTime: 124 Minutes
Release Date: December 1995
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Jeffrey D. Sams, Toyomichi Kurita, Loretta Devine, Lela Rochon, Gregory Hines, Dennis Haysbert, Mykelti Williamson, Michael Beach

Review by Andrew Hicks
2½ stars out of 4

WAITING TO EXHALE follows the relationship struggles of four black women, showing a bleak world where men are pigs. No, I don't take offense at the depiction. I know I'm not a pig, even though I do eat like one. And for those of you who are wondering if a white boy like me could ever begin to appreciate a movie about black women, I must remind you I was a black woman in a past life. And I spent my entire senior year in high school immersed in their culture and queen, Aretha the #551 bus driver.

The characters in this movie were waiting to exhale. I was waiting for the movie get good. They got their wish, but I never did. WAITING TO EXHALE is an uneven movie with some good scenes and some bad scenes, some that work well and others that don't. The cast is likeable,though, and the performances are exemplary, especially from Angela "Tina Turner" Basset. Pop star Whitney Houston has even matured acting-wise from THE BODYGUARD, though her theme song this time, "Exhale (Shoop, Shoop)" is no "I Will Always Love You."

Savannah (Houston) enjoys casual sex with various people, but is in love with a married man who promises time after time that he's going to leave his wife, but never quite gets around to it. Meanwhile, Angela Basset's husband has already left her for a white woman, so she does what any woman would do in that situation--she gathers all her husband's belongings up, takes them out to his car and lights it on fire, in what is undoubtedly the most powerful scene in the movie.

Meanwhile, Robin is in Savannah's predicament and also has a crackhead boyfriend, while Gloria, the heavyset woman, is contemplating a renewed relationship with the on-again/off-again father of her teenage son. All of them are looking for love in all the wrong places with all the wrong people, but rest assured the movie does end for the most part happily, with uncredited performances from Wesley Snipes and Gregory Hines livening things up.

I couldn't say how much of this movie accurately portrays the contemporary dating scene, because I've never been part of the contemporary dating scene, but there is a lot of sex involved (in the movie, not with me), not the nude kind, but the fully-clothed bump- and-grind stuff. WAITING TO EXHALE has a lot of good elements, but a lot of mediocre or bad ones bringing it down. The four leads are all good and the depictions of their strong friendship are touching, but the story could have been told with some tigher editing and a few less voiceovers from the characters in corny prose lifted directly from the novel this movie was based on... There, I'm done. I can exhale now.

Copyright 1996 Andrew Hicks

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