What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)
Critic Consensus: What Happened, Miss Simone? is a compelling -- albeit necessarily incomplete -- overview of its complex subject's singular artistic legacy and fascinating life.
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Critic Reviews for What Happened, Miss Simone?
What Miss Simone does have going for it is its unique access to extremely rare material, some of it never seen publicly before.
We may now have jarring insights into the mother, the activist and the tortured soul at the root of Simone's career, but it's the legendary songstress who ultimately shines through.
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.
As music and cultural critic Stanley Crouch says, "You only have to hear her once. No one sounds like her except her."
Audience Reviews for What Happened, Miss Simone?
A sad and memorable film that draws a remarkably wide picture of an ideologically admirable (yet psychologically unstable) woman who would use her sublime voice to sing her demons and not go crazy in an ugly time and world that could not accept her and her freedom.
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.
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.
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