What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015) - Rotten Tomatoes

What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)

What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

What Happened, Miss Simone? Photos

Movie Info

Using never-before-heard recordings, rare archival footage and her best-known songs, this is the story of legendary singer and activist Nina Simone.
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Critic Reviews for What Happened, Miss Simone?

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (7)

More omissive than impressionistic.

Full Review… | July 17, 2015
Top Critic

I think the film overreaches in casting Simone as a standard-bearer against racism and sexism, but it's filled with mesmerizing clips from throughout her performing career as well as numerous interviews with Simone, both audio and on film.

Full Review… | June 26, 2015
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic

As music and cultural critic Stanley Crouch says, "You only have to hear her once. No one sounds like her except her."

Full Review… | June 25, 2015
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

It may not answer What Happened, Miss Simone?, but it does tell us why the question must be asked and will be asked, for a very long time.

Full Review… | June 24, 2015
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

"What Happened" features some of the best concert footage and musical performances in recent music doc memory, even if it never quite answers the question in its title.

Full Review… | June 24, 2015
Top Critic

An often electric, bracingly urgent documentary ...

Full Review… | June 23, 2015
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for What Happened, Miss Simone?

An excellent introduction to one particular soul on planet Earth, perhaps serving as an introduction to the planet as a whole. In a world populated with beings who need interaction to survive, she was isolated, hated for her color, hated for her sex. And when a doctor declares her as unstable in the face of all this, even her own daughter breathes a sigh of relief: "so THAT'S what was wrong with her." How anything positive can arise in the face of the tsunami of hatred and stupidity that is life on this planet is only miraculous, wonderful ... and so this songbird opens her mouth to sing. Must see.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Documentaries are only as good as their filmmakers, because if you are not emotionally invested in the happenings of said story, they have not done enough research on the film's subject. "What Happened, Miss Simone" is perfectly executed for what it sets out to accomplish, which is to show the ups and downs of Nina Simone's career. From her happiness, whether it be through family or performing on stage, to her downfalls of being discriminated or dealing with the tragedy of Martin Luther King, this woman was powerful toward her people, and her voice had more of a purpose than to just sing for crowds. Told through a series of interviews, archival footage, and narrations by her daughter, the emotional conclusion is very effective for any viewer, even if they are not a fan of possibly what she stood for or her music. In the end, I truly believe this is a terrific documentary that showcases her life for better or worse, and even though the audience will dislike a lot of her actions, she was very introverted after a few certain life events occurred. "What Happened, Miss Simone" is a very raw and true documentary. If I had one complaint, I do feel like the extended periods of her songs felt like the film was being padded out to not feel too short, and do justice to her history. Overall, this is a very well made film that I can surely recommend to music fans or anyone who is a sucker for a good true story.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer


Through the use of archival footage, concert footage, interviews with those who knew her, especially Nina Simone's daughter, Lisa, and Nina Simone herself in interviews conducted before her death, the documentary "What Happened, Miss Simone?" not only answers that very question but also constructs a complex portrait of a very complicated person who was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. While she sought personal and political liberation, she was also married to an abusive husband. As a child in North Carolina, Nina Simone(nee Eunice Waymon) trained to be a classical pianist but was blocked from attending a prestigious academy by the racism of the time. So, she played nightclubs in order to support herself and her family. That brought her to the attention of record companies, followed by fame and hit records. In return, she leveraged that in support of the civil rights movement, even though she did not agree with the pacifism of Dr. King. Her activism was reflected in her music, especially in the song "Mississippi Goddam."

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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