This Tina Turner doc goes rolling on the river through the highs and lows of her life.
Tina Turner has been labeled a music legend by critics and fans alike. In my travels as a young film critic, my favorite song from her is her cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary.” And why not? It has energy, it has style, and no matter who sings it, it still works in all walks of life.
The new made-for-HBO documentary “Tina”talks about how Tina had an abusive relationship with her husband Ike, how she had her perspectives in music, how her family life is, and how she influences other people. But of course, with every celebrity-actor or musician-they have their low points in their lives.
Let’s begin with her famous name, shall we?
Her birth name was Anna Mae Bullock, but her name was changed to Tina Turner, on account of Ike wanting to be big and the fact that the name rhymes with Sheena as in the TV series “Sheena: Queen of the Jungle.” He changed her name without her consent. But she had a bigger dream in music than he did, and during their divorce, she wins the ownership of the Tina Turner name in court.
Without Ike, she was able to expand her horizons, and influence other rockers like Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger. She also had a great manager like Roger Davies, movie roles (particularly “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome”), and her biography (“I, Tina”), which had Angela Basset portraying her in and “What’s Love Got To Do With It.”
Back to the abuse story. This doc isn’t concerned with just her fame. She hated her husband for his abuse, she disliked her mother for not wanting her, and she hated her past. But she eventually learns that she doesn’t face her past, she would continue to succumb to her pain.
Directors T.J. Martin and Daniel Lindsay both paint “Tina” with style, passion, and heart. They allow the singer and the other interviewees (Basset, Kurt Loder, etc.) to express how she lived her life, and how she learned to overcome her problems. She learns to accept it, and that is quite motivating. Sometimes they go on long, but still the archival recordings of her concerts are converted very well into this modern day format, and oh, what the Hell am I saying? They’re fun to watch, because she’s singing those hits, and everyone loves her work.
But we shouldn’t see Tina Turner as a celebrity. We should see her a human being, who wants to be loved for who she is. Some care just for her songs, others care for her money, but most of us acknowledge that she’s a person, too. This was a similar case with HBO’s other doc “Showbiz Kids,” which also wanted to remind people that child actors have struggles to. We need to see the true colors inside of these celebrities, as proof that they want to be cared about. “Tina” wisely wants us to covey that message, and it wins us over.
Streaming on HBO Max.