COUNTRY:         USA 1994
CAST:                  Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, Jennifer Lewis, Vanessa Bill Calloway, Chi, Phyllis Ivone Stickney, Khandi Alexander, Pamela Tyson, Penny Johnson
SUPER FEATURES: The acting and the music.

Making it in the show business is not easy, and, if this film is right, making it as a couple is doubly difficult. This is the story of Tina Turner, done with class and style. One thing is for sure. It is easy to dislike a driven Ike Turner, but it is extremely difficult to dislike Laurence Fishburne's acting in this film. It is incredible and amazing to say the least. Needless to say it was a well justified nomination for an Oscar, where a black man only wins when he's either lucky, or the Hollywood  brass can smell millions in the wake of a performance.

The well known story of Ike and Tina, is pretty much shown as something that started nice, but ended up in despair for both parties. The person who was pretty much responsible for giving a young girl a chance, burn't himself out on drugs and abuse of his wife and some around him. And this makes for a special film, if you are directing this one.

Starting out in St. Louis, Ike was known in the early days for making the audience a part of his show. And many women tried their luck with a piece of music. The story goes that one day a young lady just blew out the audience and that Ike may have seen big stars that night, finally. He manages to buy the mother out and get the young girl to sing, which she does well, even with a bit of a gruff voice. It doesn't matter, she is good enough on stage to attract an audience, and eventually a contract. They take on their first real gigs, and prepare to go national. Here the problems begin appearing. Ike seems to take his work too seriously, and feels he is the creative force behind it all. He begins forcing Tina to do the things he hears in his head, and she does it. And it works. Tina is becoming a major star, and force in the show business. And the band
goes along for the ride. It takes them into the major tour they did with the Rolling Stones, which pretty much cemented Tina Turner's voice to the radio audience. But the problems which they were having as a married couple were more apparent than ever, and eventually, with the help of some Buddhist chanting and work, she manages to make the break and go out on her own.

The problem is, that now Ike has nothing left to do, and is desperate. He tries, unsuccessfully to get his wife back, but the writing on the wall, is over. They are through, and she has proved herself well enough on her own.

The outstanding thing in this film, besides the music, is the acting of the two leads, who manage to keep going. Between Angela's softness and Laurence's roughness, away from the music, this is a film about wife abuse, and what it takes for the woman to grow enough inside to leave the abuse. But there is much more at stake, which she is not given credit for. She does care, and does her best, even if her husband does not understand it, or see it.

Regardless, this is a very good film to watch, which, for once, does not depend on black stereotypes to get from one scene to another. The directing is detailed, and the only plastic faces in here are Phil Spector and later, Tina's new producer when she goes solo. And they are not black... quite a payback if you ask me, and a great touch, to a pair of people whose  main goal in life has been to bleed artists to make money.

The film centers on the individual stories of Ike and Tina and avoids another scene which may have caused much of the stress  which Ike was feeling. The black scene in music was very limited in those days, and very few of them could get anywhere besides the likes of Harry Belafonte and Ray Charles. Limited because the business was very much run by white people who made all the decisions. And Ike must feel he has to prove that he can sell records. And he seems to keep the band and his wife away from it all. The end result is that he has become
the man in charge, and the spoils of success are eating at him, and leading him to drink and drugs. This may have added a little to the film, but the story of Ike and Tina would have suffered in the process.

Laurence Fishburne is riveting, as is his counter part, Angela Bassett. And the music stands out through out the whole thing, as they are wrapped into the whole story so neatly.

The film concludes with Tina actually doing the last song, and through the title song. A well made film, that is too attractive to miss. Excellent direction all around, and very well defined characters. And it is a treat to watch a film where the blacks are people, instead of characters.





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