I was prepared to be perturbed by this doc on the immortal Nina S. I was already perturbed by the title, which comes from a quotation from Maya Angelou and would seem to hold Miss Simone responsible for her own mental illness and consequent inability to be 'good enough' as a black icon. Eat it, Maya Angelou. There is some really great stuff here, mostly glossed over and rabidly condensed. Great performance footage.
I love Nina Simone and appreciated hearing her story and seeing the archival footage, but this isn't cinema, it's a TV programme. Very formulaic in style, with people sitting in chairs talking, which is the least imaginative, least cinematic thing there is. As this premiered at film festivals and advertised in cinemas, I expected better, however it was made for Netflix, which is, primarily, an internet TV channel.
While unable to do full justice in such a short running time, Garbus' exceptionally well edited documentary is an excellent jumping off point for those wishing to learn something about this wonderful artist and activist. A cautionary tale in many ways for those who put political expression over the trappings of fame and success. Not a puff piece by any stretch which is refreshing.
As a documentary, it's not exactly remarkable, following the basic biography formula of highly praising the artist while showing all their dirty laundry. But, Nina Simone's dramatic story and unmatched artistry ensure that this film, while average, is never dull. Fans of Simone will enjoy the performance footage and information provided, while the newcomers will find much to appreciate as well.