What Happened, Miss Simone?

This documentary is very well made. I was a fan of Nina Simone before, but learned a lot. It seems like a well balanced account. It presents Simone as an incredible artist with strong political beliefs without shying away from her darker side. Simone was abused by her husband/manager, and after they separated she was mostly absent from her daughter’s life, or perpetuating more abuse. Hearing Simone’s daughter talk about the good times with her mother, and the pain, is one of the most emotional parts of the film.

There were parts of the documentary that used some fairly lame stock footage to tell the story, and overall it’s not a particularly exciting movie to watch. It’s better when they get away from the talking heads and voiceovers and use archival footage.

Really, who cares, it’s all about the music. The shots of Simone performing give such a strong sense of who she was. She has such a haunting and unique voice, and a very compelling stage presence that transformed over the years. The film incorporates her music wonderfully, which is so important. The music is what we’re all here for. It was interesting to see how Simone’s personal life guided her music, especially her involvement with the civil rights music.

If you’re a fan of Nina Simone it’s an alright movie. If you aren’t a fan yet, I imagine it would make a great introduction.


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