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
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
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