Tina review: Tina Turner says goodbye to fans in HBO music documentary

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 07: Tina Turner and Adrienne Warren speak during "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical" opening night at Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 07, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 07: Tina Turner and Adrienne Warren speak during "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical" opening night at Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 07, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images) /

Tina Turner sold over 200 million albums, won eight Grammy Awards and is a bonafide rock star. She is the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll after a successful career of over five decades in the music industry. HBO’s TINA documentary includes her intimate interview about how she survived an abusive relationship with her husband, Ike Turner, and reinvented herself years later as a chart-topping solo artist.

The pop icon asks directors Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin about the best way to place a coda on her career during her sit down interview. “How do you bow out and slowly just go away?” she asks the Oscar-winning team. Her husband, music producer Erwin Bach, shares her wish to say goodbye to her fans with a documentary and a hit Broadway musical about her life that showcases her talent and legacy: “I am going to America. I am going to say goodbye to my American fans. I’ll wrap it up. I think this documentary and the play. This is it. It’s a closure.”

TiINA s a portrait of strength in the face of adversity. Tina met her late ex-husband when she was a naïve teenager. She explains her journey from growing up as Anna Mae Bullock in a cotton field in Nutbush Tennessee. The film includes new audio interviews, photos and live performances. Oprah Winfrey and Angela Bassett share their insight on the inspirational woman who shaped their lives.

Larry King asked Tina during an interview in 1997 about her influence on pop culture after she shared her story. “Do you realize you are a feminist hero in America?” She credits her Buddhist faith for giving her the focus and strength to bounce back from the brink of tragedy and sadness.

TINA unfolds in chapters and begins with concert footage of the songstress commanding the stage. Carl Arrington from People Magazine reminds us that he broke the story the reverberated around the world in 1981. His article, “Tina Turner The Woman who taught Mick Jagger How to Dance,” went in depth into how Tina was being physically and psychologically abused by her husband. She lived and worked as a member of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue until she left. She suffered in silence after 16 years of sexual abuse that included repeated rape, black eyes, broken ribs, bloody lips and brutal beatings with coat hangers at the hands of her spouse.

Tina escaped her marriage after several suicide attempts and a bloody physical battle with Ike in 1976. She told her story years later to journalist Kurt Loder in a bestselling memoir called I, Tina . We hear her ordeal with domestic violence on cassettes recorded during their meetings to write the book. She refers to her unhappiness in the movie as “living a life of death.” Her comeback story was a phenomenal one considering that she only had ownership of her name and a few cents in her pocket. Her story was dramatized in the Oscar-nominated film What’s Love Got To Do With It, with Angela Bassett portraying her pain on the silver screen.

We continue watching the struggle as Tina finds a manager in her comeback chapter and has to decide on her first big solo song to solidify her career. The single, “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” is one of her biggest hits in North America. But I was surprised to learn that it was already recorded as a pop record that she rearranged to make her own. Her goal was to be a female rock star like Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones. We see every path that she took to achieve her dreams of filling stadiums around the world with millions of her fans.

Tina was inducted into the Rocking Roll Hall of Fame with Ike Turner in 1991. However, I am baffled that she is still not included on the roster as a solo artist. I was one of many fans who tried to get an opening night ticket to the Tina Broadway musical show featured in the film, but it was sold out.

As the documentary continues, we watch her meteoric rise up the pop charts with a string of hits from the Private Dancer album. While we cheer her on as she finds the love of her life, Tina tells the seductive tale of how she convinced her future husband to visit her in L.A. to make love to her. In one interview she states, “It wasn’t a good life. It was in some areas but the goodness did not balance the bad.”

Playwright Katori Hall chimes in with her thoughts on the beautiful dynamo after she had the task of turning her life into the Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.

“There’s a part of her, I guess, that we’ve all laid claim to, we’ve all embraced, across the world,” Angela Bassett states. “And I hope she knows that. How beloved, how loved she is. She is absolutely adored.”

USA Today reports that the directors decided to rely on archival material to prevent retraumatizing her about the past. “Sitting down with her for the documentary, we didn’t want to drag her back into the muck of her past,” Martin says. Although she’s a trailblazer in speaking out about domestic violence, “Tina’s not an activist — that’s just not her personality type. She was literally just surviving, and as a result, made all these heroic actions for the benefit of her own health that we all admired. And that obviously became the story of Tina Turner.”

Tina now lives in Zurich Switzerland with her husband, where they married in 2013 after living together for 27 years. The songstress has been suffering from serious health issues after she had a stroke, intestinal cancer and needed a kidney to survive.

TINA is a treat for fans of the musical legend who miss seeing her perform. But she made sure to show us that sometimes it is necessary to shed light on old wounds that will never fully heal. A new generation will discover why Tina Turner is an icon who shines so bright that our hearts and souls are forever illuminated by her magical dance moves.

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TINA premieres on HBO and HBO MAX on March 27.