What Happened, Miss Simone?

An excellent documentary that sets the standard for how these films should be made, What Happened, Miss Simone doesn’t simply trod on the same tired ground as many biographical documentaries. Instead, it weaves the story of who Nina Simone was into who she became, stitching in other notable figures of the time, her reaction to important historical events, how they shaped her and how she shaped them. This is a film about tortured genius, black oppression, a woman’s role in determining her own life, and the terrors of mental illness without ever losing sight of Nina Simone’s talent and undeniably important legacy. A tight, succinct documentary that shows how it should be done that only lacks in that throughout the film the viewer is told how well loved Simone was, but seems to keep such an academic approach that, despite the intimacy, one never quite falls in love with Simone all over again.

4 stars