Rated 3.0

Director Kevin Macdonald’s documentary traces the life and career of Whitney Houston, a sad arc that could wring tears from a bronze statue. Macdonald’s film is likely to do the same, mixing archival footage and talking-head interviews with Houston’s family and associates. Houston’s music gets rather short shrift; Macdonald confines that amazing voice (besides her singing the National Anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl) to a flurry of fleeting, almost passing excerpts, preferring to focus on the forces (especially her mother Cissy) that shaped her early development while sowing the seeds of insecurity that led to her tragic decline and death. Revelations of childhood abuse and adult confusion about her sexuality avoid tabloid sensationalism; instead, Macdonald traces her fall with sensitivity and compassion.