Perhaps the most straightforwardly joyous part of Tina is when Ms Turner, now 80 years old, recalls meeting her second husband Erwin Bach. As she remembers that first meeting at Düsseldorf Airport all those decades ago, the artist becomes almost giddy, like a teenage girl, sitting in a lavishly nondescript room while being interviewed for the documentary to which she finally consented.
Co-directors Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin have assembled an orderly and uncomplicated summation of Turner’s remarkable life and career, with the whole affair nimbly condensed down to just under two hours. And yet it still manages to feel exhaustive enough, without the sense that anything was deliberately omitted, tactically or otherwise. It’s really just a chronological retelling of the performer’s life, from poverty to a refined retirement in a lakeside Zurich villa.
There’s a deliberate effort to squash any sense of victimhood, although the spectre of Ike Turner unavoidably looms over the singer’s story. As Tina points out repeatedly in archival interviews, she doesn’t wish to rehash the dark and tragic elements of her past, nor will she allow them to define her. However, she doesn’t refuse to acknowledge them, and this is what gives her life such a cinematic quality: it’s the epitome of triumph over tragedy. Her matter-of-fact retellings of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her then-husband are downright harrowing. Ike Turner, unsurprisingly and accurately, comes across as a monstrous creature of vanity. He remains a little thinly sketched, but this isn’t his story.
As a subject, the singer is gracious and dignified, with the sort of polished candour that comes from being famous for around half a century. Although she presumably knows how to project focus away from anything she might not want to discuss, there are many telling incidental moments that help to paint a richer portrait of her as an artist, or icon, or mother, or woman. It might be surprising to know that Turner seeks career guidance from her psychic, or that Anna Mae Bullock wasn’t consulted before Ike changed her name to Tina Turner.
And then there’s the music (which is inevitably constant). With her emotional rasp and visceral stage presence, the subject became a legendary figure a long time ago, casting off any notion of victimhood and reclaiming her own narrative. What’s love got to do with it? Rather a lot, actually.
Tina is released digitally on Sky On Demand, NOW and via altitude.film on 28th March 2021, and on Blu-ray and DVD from 1st April 2020.
Watch the trailer for Tina here: