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Mixed reviews for Whitney Houston biopic but critics love star DaCosta

The controversial Whitney Houston biopic, which served as Angela Bassett's directorial debut, has been given mixed reviews from the country's toughest critics.

The film, which was made without the participation of the late singer's family, debuted on TV on Saturday night (17Jan15), with young actress Yaya DaCosta portraying Houston.


Many feared the film would be a disaster, but the critics haven't exactly savaged Bassett's debut as a filmmaker, and The Hollywood Reporter's Allison Keene has high praise for DaCosta's portrayal, insisting she "nails" the singer's look and "mannerisms, particularly when it comes to a performance of I Will Always Love You".


She adds, "The movie does not shy away from emotional portrayals" of Houston and her ex-husband Bobby Brown's "drug abuse, codependency and personal tragedy, nor does it let either one off the hook when it comes to mistakes and bad decisions."


Keene also notes Bassett, who co-starred with Houston in Waiting to Exhale, offers "sound" filming instincts when it comes to filming DaCosta and co-star Arlen Escarpeta in "several extremely intimate, lavishly sensual scenes".


New York Times' Jon Caramanica isn't a fan of the biopic, writing, "For two hours, this film cherry-picks moments of Houston's life - some recognizable, some not - and stitches them together into a perplexing, not altogether comforting quilt."


But he's quick to add, "DaCosta fluently mimics Houston's gestural tics, the quick neck-snaps and chin-juts that she brought to her performances. And Houston's vocals are delivered gloriously by (Deborah) Cox."


And the Los Angeles Times' Robert Lloyd adds, "Though it works in parts and pieces... it doesn't add up to much... It's a better-than-average Lifetime film."


The film premiered after an exclusive new interview with Bobby Brown, which ended with the My Prerogative singer admitting he missed his "friend" and ex-wife.


Following the debut of the biopic, Houston's long-time mentor Clive Davis premiered his new film of Houston's greatest performances.