Waiting to Exhale

  • Film
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As Hollywood genres go, the black women's film is a non-entity, so any effort should be welcomed. It's New Year's Eve in Phoenix, Arizona, and Savannah (Houston) arrives in town on the look out for a good man. Fat chance: simultaneously, Bernardine (Bassett) is dumped by her husband for his white secretary; Gloria (Devine) discovers the reason she can't persuade her ex-husband back into the sack is that he's gay; and Robin (Rochon) is finding her rotund lover's sexual technique spectacularly uninvolving. The odd honky temptress apart, race isn't an issue here. Trysts with married men, widowers, widowers-to-be and crackheads are interspersed with the four friends getting together for some quality bitching therapy about the men in their lives. This is about girls-together solidarity, as the audience I was in loudly demonstrated. For every crowd-pleasing set-piece, there's the shambolic structure, uncomfortable shifts of tone, over-glossed visuals, and the music: rightly not trusting his scenes to stand alone, Whitaker wallpapers his film with unconscionably bland slush-pop. Shallow, semi-coherent, overlong, but a likely hit.

Release details

Duration: 123 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Forest Whitaker
Screenwriter: Terry McMillian, Ron Bass
Cast: Whitney Houston
Angela Bassett
Loretta Devine
Lela Rochon
Gregory Hines
Dennis Haysbert
Mykelti Williamson
Michael Beach
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