It's incredibly hard to view 'Glitter' objectively given the facts that it was a huge Box Office bomb and that also the leading lady who was supposed to prove she was not only a singer but a an actor too, despite being mentally ill at it's release. Now I'm not saying that this review is completely un-biased, after all, I'd been brought up on a healthy diet of Mariah Carey, but I did rent this movie a few weeks ago (it being not released to cinema) due to pure curiosity.
The multi-octave song-bird's film vehicle (originally titled 'All That Glitters... a much better name I think) opens with in the early 1960's, in an all-black bar with a woman (Valarie Pettiford) singing a jazz/blues number before introducing her young daughter, Billie Frank (Isobel Gomes), to the semi-interested audience and the two launch into a duet which wows the crowd. Cut to the next few shots where Billie's mother tries to get money from Billie's father, before giving her up to an adoption agency.
Fast-foward to the bright and bouncy 1980's where all-grown-up Billie (the aforementioned Carey) is dancing in a club with her two best friends Louise and Roxy (Da Brat and Tia Texada), who are soon offered as back-up singing gig for no-talent, good-looking up-and-comer Sylk. Needing the money, the 3 take the job, and the producer finds Mariah's... er... Billie's voice completely spellbinding - and chooses to use her voice instead of the God-awful voice that the main singer is belting out.
A recording of a song entitled "All My Life" is handed to a Club DJ - DJ Dice to be exact (British actor Max Beesley who puts on a 'wigga' accent - sometimes really good, other times really bad) who plays it and instantly falls in love with the vocals. Upon discovering that the vocal used is in fact Billie's he instantly wants to be her producer (of course her beautiful looks have nothing to do with it!). So, makes a deal with her old producer Timothy (Terrence Howard) to take the gorgeous Billie and her back-up singing, loud-mouthed friends and take them under his wing - for the reasonable (!) price of ONLY $100,000! So the Dice & Billie end up becoming good friends and record a song, "I Didn't Mean To Turn You On", and it is played for music executives, and before you can change the butt groove in your seat, Billie is signed to a major record label.
Of course, the road to musical superstardom is not an easy one and Billie has several troubles - the video director for her first single "Loverboy" wants her to parade around in nothing but a piece of string (Billie minds, Mariah wouldn't) and there's also the little problem of her undeniable attraction to Dice. The two become an item and she even moves into Dice's modern, typically New York apartment. Billie's first single unsurprisingly tops the U.S. chart - for ten weeks, at which point the record company are eager to release her first album which they want full control over - p***ing off both Billie and Dice.
Our star-crossed 80's lovers start fighting as her career begins to blossom. She's invited to all the right parties and invited to guest on all the right talk shows - a dream she's had for many years, but amist all of the amazing goings-on, her two best friends are seeing less and less of her and Dice is becoming a drag - she even has to bail him out of jail before an appearance on a show. The two have a massive fight, leading Billie to move out (and Girl Power-ly slap his face). Her attempts at tracking down her addicted biological mother fail as the adoption agency have lost contact with her. Also during this time, she records a single with pop singer Rafael (Halle Berry's musician hubby Eric Benét). The duet, titled "Want You" is another number one for Billie, and her biggest dream is about to come true - she's about to play at Madison Square Garden.
The day of the concert arrives and Billie returns to Dice's apartment to find him not there. Unfortunately Billie's day won't exactly go as planned - it seems, achieving your dreams sometimes means that you'll lose the ones you love. And with that, I won't go into the final minutes' in detail, but I'll just say that is very emotional.
So that's the story, but were the performances any good? Well yes and no. Mariah Carey (although despite what you've no doubt heard) is a promising actress. Her acting isn't brilliant (yet) - there are times when you feel she goes overboard (especially in the emotional bits). I've found that her most convincing scenes (and therefore best ones) are where she gets angry. Her stereotypical best friends are good too and add a needed comical element. Beesley as DJ Dice is good, although he sometimes seems very fake. Anyone else worth noticing is probably OK.
The soundtrack is brilliant. Carey's 9th studio album is a pop/r&b LP with great recordings. From the pumping 80's tracks (Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, Didn't Mean To Turn You On, All My Life) to the gorgeous Mariah-like ballads (Lead The Way, Reflections and especially Never Too Far) plus the Eric duet 'Want You' and the Ja Rule infected 'If We' - it's just as good as her previous efforts.
Overall, 'Glitter' IS a film that the troubled songbird should be proud of. It is a drama, though - and watch that, don't think it'll be laugh-a-minute. It's emotional, passionate and with Carey in the lead - it's one rollercoaster ride you'll like at the time and will leave you wanting more. Recommended definetely... Go Mariah!