(www.BlacksinHollywood.com) – Toni Braxton’s biopic was like watching whip lash – heavily censored whip lash. There were so many parts left out that watching the movie felt like a parody at times. The casting wasn’t much better but aside from these glaring issues, the movie was very well watched and anticipated.
Airing the biopic on the network she chose was risky business because as one blogger said, “Lifetime gave Black America PTSD for what it did to Aaliyah and TLC.”
Here’s our full review:
No matter what you thought of the movie, it was hard to ignore how much Toni Braxton was a part of our lives. From her painfully good songs to her racy photo shoots, Braxton left America talking. But some say her quest for sexy fame led to the downfall of the artist that we all came to love.
First, let’s get the technical stuff out of the way: The publicity department sent media outlets this statement: “Lifetime’s Original Movie, Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart, starring newcomer Lex Scott Davis (The Exes) as the seven-time Grammy® Award-winning R&B icon, premiered January 23, 2016. Toni Braxton executive produced the two-hour film, which is based on her popular memoir Unbreak My Heart. Immediately following the movie, Lifetime premieres the special, Beyond The Headlines: Toni Braxton. Unbreak My Heart follows the singer’s journey from her discovery by mega producers L.A. Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, to her battle with Lupus. The movie also delves into how she made it through her public divorce all while navigating her son’s autism and family struggles. Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart chronicles the untold measures the wildly talented artist took to make herself and her family whole again, becoming a global inspiration.”
Black Twitter had a different kind of reaction and it was funny as hell.
Xenia, a blogger who was definitely drinking the biopic’s koolaid wrote, “Toni’s story is captivating and you will not want to look away from the screen. While the movie was not rushed, I would’ve loved it if she elaborated on the aftermath of what happened after she got signed and her sisters didn’t, also any anger after realizing LA Reid gave her a horrible record deal.”
Xenia goes on to say, “Toni did not sweep everything under the rug, she was rather honest which was refreshing and admirable. You will see the pressures of a sister that was happy for her chance at fame and success but sad to not have her sisters be apart of the start of it all. She handled it rather well, and as we know, later employed them as her backup singers. However, it just never seems to be enough for her mother.”
From the Twitter reactions – and our own – it’s not immediately clear to know if Xenia was watching the same movie as the rest of us. “Unbreak My Heart” sped through the parts that made Toni Braxton look back like an illegal snowboarder in a winter storm speeding past NYPD in Times Square. She did not fully cover the straight up drama that she and Tamar were experiencing in the movie. For those media outlets who covered Braxton about that time, it was like being embedded in Afghanistan. The movie would have added much needed credibility if this had been allowed to be told correctly.
Another area that had people rolling their eyes as the glossed over – though implied – “relationship” with Babyface. “Unbreak My Heart” tip toed around the subject like a teenager sneaking in the house past their granny who fell asleep while waiting up for them on the couch. Moments like this would have added much needed authenticity and a little more punch to the movie.
At a time when the Oscars highlights that only whites or those who can pass for white tend to get nods, it would be politically incorrect to not address the 700 pound purple elephant that was on every frame of the “Unbreak My Heart” biopic: Casting controversy.
At times it was hard to follow the movie because the viewer literally had to mentally pause to try to figure out who was who. Many were forced to turn to Twitter to get clarification on who was on the screen. One of the most obviously casting fails was the actress who portrayed L.A. Reid’s wife, Pebbles. Black Twitter exploded with comments about her casting going as far as to post a meme with the photo of Marcia Brady from “Brady Bunch” with the words, Pebbles greeted Toni at the door like…”
The movie ended quite cool, though, leading audiences into the actual Braxton telling her story in her own words. Obviously, she had waited her 10 year mandatory period to speak on what happened – or what happened as she remembered it minus the plastic surgery post marriage sex scandals and other things. The biopic left out her desire to have a lesbian relationship and her admitted “girl crush” on Ellen.
Toni has discussed this before, even going as far as to get her agent to get her a role on the show, Orange is the New Black. “This would be my first lesbian experience if I did “Orange is the New Black,” because I’ve never had one. There are a lot of things I haven’t experienced that I need to start experiencing. I need to start living. Like Aunt Mame said, I need to live! I would like to say, “I lived.”
The biopic also left out juicy details of her “crush” on Babyface and what actually happened with them or the other sexual situations that bubbled to the surface in the media. The timeline was often off like when Mama Braxton said, “All men cheat except Obama.” He wasn’t president at the time that this part of the movie’s scene was happening. Also, they took a song moment from “Braxton Family Values” reality show into the movie, which actually took place on the reality show not at the moment that the movie depicted it to have happened.
On her “affair” with Babyface Braxton said, “I’ve been in love with him since he was in (’80s R&B group) The Deele. I was a huge fan. Very quickly he became my big brother when we started working together. I was the girl who was like, “I’ll never have a chance with him,” and from there we just became brother and sister. Our relationship was really weird. I will always, always love him. But it’s like having a crush on your cousin and you realize, “Maybe I shouldn’t have a crush on my cousin. That’s not hot.”
It was sad to see how much she relied on being a “sexy girl” to get her through because Toni Braxton was enough on her own without falling down that rabbit hole. Now that she’s “gotten it out” here’s hoping we’ll get more of authentic Toni Braxton going forward. We got a small taste of it during the post-biopic special that aired, which was pretty good. For the sake of this review, the “in-her-own-words” special saved the experience from being a waste of time. It didn’t unbreak what was broken from the movie, but it really helped a lot.
Rating: *** out of 5