What’s Love Got to Do With It
1993 | Musical | 118 minutes
Born Anna Mae Bullock, Tina Turner was raised in the small town of Nutbush, Tennessee. At a young age, Tina was abandoned by her parents and cared for by her grandmother. Following her grandmother’s death, Tina moved to St. Louis to be with her mother and close sister. As an escape, she pursues a singing career. She hears Ike Turner perform one night and wangles a spot singing in his band. A romance ensues, they marry, and they begin to have success as Ike and Tina Turner. Tina soon surpasses Ike in popularity becoming an R&B superstar. Ike turns to drugs and becomes violent and abusive. He beats Tina and verbally lacerates her at every opportunity. Feeling trapped, friends advise Tina to become a Buddhist. This works. Growing confident, she musters the courage to get a divorce. Tina gives Ike everything except her name. That, she insists on keeping. Her big break as a solo artist comes when she meets Roger Davis who helps her achieve stardom as a rock star.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 94%
Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Actor (Laurence Fishburne); Best Actress (Angela Bassett)
Golden Globes: Best Actress (Angela Bassett)
Entertainment Weekly: #2, Best Bio-Pic Musicals
Rolling Stone: #10, Best Bio-Pic Rock Musicals
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WHAT’S LOVE GOT to DO WITH IT ranks as one of the most harrowing, uncompromising showbiz biographies I’ve ever seen. It is a tradition in the genre that performers must go through hard times in order to eventually arrive at fame, but few went through harder times than Tina Turner. The movie shows Ike, jealous of her talent and popularity, turning into a violent wife-beater, and it shows her putting up with a lot more than she should have, for a lot longer. Bassett is fiery and convincing as Tina; Fishburne, in a powerful performance, is able to show us both Ike’s charm and his violent side. The singing on the movie’s sound track is by Tina Turner, but Bassett’s performancec of the songs are so much in synch—not just lip-synch, but physically, and with personality and soul—that it always seems as if we’re watching Tina at work.
Depicted by this broad, savvy, entertaining film as a survivor and a victim in equal parts, Ms. Turner becomes an emblem of contemporary tell-all dramaturgy. As played by Angela Bassett, who transforms herself memorably into the kind of hard-working powerhouse Ms.Turner is onstage, this film’s heroine is largely uncomplicated, motivated by decency and fear. The deeper, more painful side of her experience remains unexpressed, except through the film’s depiction of its riveting villain.
Bassett conveys an intimacy with her role reaching far beyond mere skillful mimicry. Her obvious respect for Turner informs every nuance in this much-deserved breakthrough performance.
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