Waiting to Exhale

By Norment, Lynn | Ebony, December 1995 | Go to article overview

Waiting to Exhale


Norment, Lynn, Ebony


Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett light up the silver screen just in time for the holidays in the anticipated film adaptation of Terry McMillan's enormously popular novel, Waiting To Exhale. The movie, a frank look at women's friendships and sexuality, is the provocative story of four Black women and their trials and tribulations as they navigate through the pitfalls of relationships with husbands and lovers.

Whitney Houston, the world renowned Grammy Award-winning recording star who made her acting debut in the blockbuster movie The Bodyguard in 1992, stars as the lead character, Savannah Jackson, who is a sexy, single young woman who returns from Denver to Phoenix, where she hopes to become a successful television producer and snag the long elusive Mr. Right in the process.

Bernadine Harris, Savannah's good friend, is portrayed by Angela Bassett, who has won accolades and acclaim for her sterling portrayal of Tina Turner in the film What's Love Got To Do With It, a role for which she received an Academy! Award nomination, and as Betty Shabazz in Spike Lee's Malcolm X. As the new film opens, Bernadine has just learned that her husband, after years of mistreating her and taking her for granted, has left her--along with their house, BMW and two children--and run off with their money and his young White bookkeeper. Suddenly single, Bernadine is incensed and boiling with anxieties about the turn her life has taken, and the action only heats up when she meets a new beau.

Their successful and sexually adventurous friend, Robin Stokes, is portrayed by Lela Rochon, who has appeared in Boomerang and Meteor Marl. It seems that Robin is suffering from a '90s syndrome taken right from a television talk show: she can't seem to stay away from lying, cheating pretty men, such as the drop-dead gorgeous Russell, portrayed by the actor Leon. Robin ignores ordinary-looking guys who are loving and adoring and most likely would make good husbands. Though Robin is supersmart when it comes to business matters, she loses all common sense when it comes to men.

The fourth actress in this talented and entertaining quartet is Loretta Devine, who portrays Gloria Johnson. Rather than seeking comfort in men like her friends, Gloria seeks solace in food. She also has a trendy hair salon and devotes considerable attention to her precocious but difficult teenage son, Tarik, portrayed by Donald A. Faison. Devine has appeared in a number of films, including Amos and Andrew, A Class Act and Little Nikita.

Waiting To Exhale was inspired by McMillan's personal experiences as she moved through unfulfilling, sometimes explosive romantic relationships over the years. And she realized that many of her friends were in the same boat: "educated, smart, attractive...and alone." She says it is not autobiographical, though bits of her experiences are found in each of the four characters.

In response to criticism that Black men are portrayed negatively in the movie, McMillan says there are positive male images in both the book and the film. However, she adds that the male characters were "hand-picked" to show women in certain situations and demonstrate how women make bad decisions in choosing the men in their lives. "They weren't all dogs," she says of her male characters. "But you have to understand, too, that these women were not exactly saints. Look at Robin. She's a real ditz, a dummy. Her whole world revolves around men, and the men she chooses don't treat her right. It says a lot about how she feels about herself. To make that point, we had to get a man who treated her that way."

McMillan emphasizes that both the book and the movie are "forms of entertainment, not anthropological studies," and that her male critics "need to go march again, stop being so immature and write their own books."

Waiting To Exhale, with its lush, vibrant cinematography, is directed by the highly respected actor/filmmaker Forest Whitaker, who won acclaim and respect for his riveting performances before the camera in The Crying Game and Bird. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Waiting to Exhale
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.