Reviewed by Adam Donato
This is a documentary about the life of a famous singer, Tina Turner. The film follows her from her early days singing in a church choir to her marriage to Ike Turner and follows her the rest of her career. Interviewing for the documentary along with Tina Turner are some big names such as Angela Bassett and Oprah Winfrey. The rest of the interviews come from people who were close with Tina during her life, like her family, manager, and husband. Directed by Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin, Tina takes the audience on a journey through the life of one of the great women in all of rock.
Like Turner herself, the documentary is electric. It really is amazing to see all the old footage of her performing. The film features lots of commentary about Turner during her heyday like when they talk about how vivacious she is, but the thing that drives it home is just seeing her letting loose on stage. She is singing at the top of her lungs, she is dripping with sweat, and somehow her hair still looks good. Certainly, the high points in her life are very fun and are obviously filled with a lot of great music.
All that being said, it’s a sad watch. The life of Tina Turner was very tragic as she was an unwanted child and an abused wife. The film largely focuses on her relationship with her former husband, Ike Turner. There is one clip of an interview from him, which is interesting to watch because this perceived monster tries to provide an explanation for why his ex-wife tried to take her own life. All the while, the audience is looking at him with fear as literally everybody else is describing the horrific acts he committed. The worst part is that she repeatedly expresses her displeasure with the story of her life being centered around this man. Yes, he is a large part of a chapter in her life and how she got her start but seeing multiple videos of old interviews where they ask her questions about her former husband and the abuse is disheartening. Turner talks about how she wrote a book and made a movie decades ago so that she didn’t have to talk about it anymore and this only made the topic more of a prevalent focus in her life. It’s just sad and it’s hard to imagine she allowed this doc to happen if it was all going to be about her ex-husband and the abuse.
The silver lining to this is that Turner certainly is an inspiring character. It really does a great job of painting her as a good person, being nice to people that are close to her despite them not deserving it. Seeing her impact, not just on women like Angela Bassett, who got to play her in the movie, but on all women. I’m sure Turner doesn’t mind shedding light on the abuse if it means inspiring other women to stand up for themselves.
As far as biographical documentaries go, Tina does a good job of showcasing who she was, why she was, and why she is important. It only helps that the rest of the movie is filled with snippets of her singing. With plenty to say and a good time along the way, Tina is an informative piece that will satisfy hardcore fans and inspire new ones.
Tina airs on HBO March 27 at 8pm ET/PT.