REVIEW: Tina (Glasgow Film Festival 2021)
Having previously tackled sports (Undefeated) and politics (LA 92) in their past films, the Oscar-winning filmmaking duo made up of Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin are now attempting another new subject. For their latest documentary the pair has directed a biographical film about the life and career of global superstar Tina Turner…so no pressure then! With Turner’s full cooperation, the film charts her sensational career from beginning as the front woman of Ike and Tina Turner to becoming one of the most iconic solo artists in music history. Tina also provides a deeply personal look at the life of the famous singer off stage, detailing her childhood, relationship with her mother and of course the years of abuse she faced from ex-husband Ike Turner.
The film is made up of interview segments with Turner and several other significant people from her life and career, as well as archive footage and musical performances. The interviewees that the filmmakers have assembled for this documentary are interesting and relevant voices that really do enhance the conversation and the retelling of Turner’s story. Amongst them are some very well known names including presenter and actress Oprah Winfrey and actress Angela Bassett, who of course played Turner in the 1993 film based on the singer’s life What’s Love Got to Do with It. The collection of names also includes many industry professionals who worked with Turner throughout her career as well as writers and journalists who have previously documented the famous singer’s remarkable life and career.
One of the film’s biggest successes is managing to appeal both to fans of Turner and also to those who maybe aren’t so familiar with her (if that’s possible). The amount of detail and careful progression through her history makes the film so accessible and it could serve as an excellent introduction to the singer’s fantastic back catalogue of music, as well as her other career highlights. The film will most definitely encourage fans to spend some time revisiting Turner’s music as the documentary highlights so many of her hit records.
It really delves into the creative progress behind many of her tracks, with the most fascinating probably being the recording of one her biggest songs, What’s Love Got to Do with It. Thanks to the first-hand accounts of Turner and the professionals who worked with her on the song, viewers are treated to some interesting, and quite humorous back-story behind this record-breaking song. This insight, alongside footage of several live performances, ensures this documentary is a real celebration of Turner’s talent and success. These pauses from the main narrative showcase her amazing stage presence, vocal ability and performance quality, helping to reinforce just why she has lasted so long in this business. These moments also allow viewers to reflect on what they have learnt about Turner through her testimony in this film. The two complement each other perfectly.
Beyond her amazing performances, maybe the most compelling part of this documentary is Turner’s frank, detailed and emotional discussion about her survival of abuse that she encountered from her ex-husband Ike Turner. The account of her escape from abuse is so powerful and feels truly cinematic in the way that it is captured here. Turner mentions on several occasions how she doesn’t like to talk about this time in her life and understandably so. This only makes her willingness to tell this story once more, and for what will most likely be the final time publicly, even more of a testament to her own strength and in doing so, will no doubt be inspirational to many audiences across the world. It is an absolute delight then, to see her reminisce about much happier times with her current husband, Erwin. The joy and love that both of these people have for each other is so evident and it’s conveyed wonderfully here, once again reminding viewers how she was able to conquer the darkness that she had to endure for so many years and celebrating her much deserved happiness.
This emotional arc and the trajectory of the film is helped by telling Turner’s story in chronological order as it excellently recounts the ups and downs of rock’s most famous diva. The film naturally builds to the most satisfying and well-earned of finales that all fans of Turner’s will know to expect but the expectation of this stepping-off point makes it no less effective. With the contributions from all the interviewees rounded up and the details of her career included, Tina bows out in euphoric fashion, leaving audiences with the undisputed fact that she really is better than all the rest.
Tina airs on HBO Max in the US on March 27 2021.
Then it will be available the next day in the UK on Sky Documentaries and NOW TV.