Waiting to Exhale (1995)

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Released 17-Nov-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 118:20
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:14) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Forest Whitaker

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Whitney Houston
Angela Bassett
Loretta Devine
Lela Rochon
Gregory Hines
Dennis Haysbert
Mykelti Williamson
Michael Beach
Wendell Pierce
Donald Faison
Jeffrey D. Sams
Jazz Raycole
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds
Faith Evans

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Danish
English for the Hearing Impaired
German Titling
Italian Titling
Spanish Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Ladies and gentlemen. This is a brief public announcement... I absolutely detested this film, so if this is your world all-time favourite flick, please click here to be immediately transported to the technical section.

     Okay folks - for those of you who've remained - please be warned. Watching this film may stimulate a nauseous response or an increase in your desire to spit in disgust. For my mind, this has been renamed Waiting to Expectorate as that's entirely what it made me want to do. The novel that Waiting to Exhale was based on was written by Terry McMillan who also wrote this screenplay. The book was a smash hit, so one might have thought it was a winning decision to make the novelist the screenwriter. I confess I haven't read the book, and nothing I saw on the screen would now induce me to do so, but it left me wondering how the originator of the story could create such stilted dialogue, such wooden characters and such leaden plots.

     From a purely formulaic point of view, one would think it had plenty going for it. As stated, the original novelist had the writing gig, the generally wonderful Forest Whitaker makes his directorial debut, and there's plenty of star power with the magnificent Angela Bassett heading a cast that boasts Whitney Houston, Wesley Snipes and Gregory Hines amongst others. But the story lines are so monodimensional, the characters so stereotypical and the script so bordering on soap opera that the overly long endurance test that is watching this film becomes a marathon of defiance rather than an engaging diversion. It's a curious choice for Whitaker to make this his debut film - as it's such an obviously "chick flick" formula, but it's equally curious that McMillan could create such bland lines and such unsympathetic characters.

     In essence the film opens on New Year's Eve - that time when everyone states their best new intentions. Via a rather laboured voice over technique, we are introduced to our four principal heroines:

Savannah Jackson (Whitney Houston) - a newly fledged television executive, fleeing a disastrous relationship.
Bernadine Harris (Angela Bassett) - about to endure the desperate crush of being left by her husband for a white woman (the emphasis is hers)
Gloria Matthews (Loretta Devine) - a chubby hairdresser facing an empty nest and the proof that her son's father is irrevocably gay, and
Robin Stokes (Lela Rochon) - a high powered executive who's really just looking for love and babies and a white picket fence, but keeps picking the wrong guys.

     There you have it. We endure a seemingly endless torture as these four women encounter some of the most odious male characters ever to foul up a screen. In the apparent gospel according to McMillan, nearly every man out there is either a misogynist, a wife cheater, a drug addict, a terminal liar or a complete and utter screw-up. Even the men who are supposed to be more sympathetic, like Snipes' James, and Hines' Marvin come across as emotionally and, at times, morally suspect. James comes on to Bernadine in a bar before confessing he's still married to a woman that he adores, but who has breast cancer. Apparently sleeping with Bernadine with his clothes on and sending her conflicted love letters maintains his integrity, and Marvin picks fights with Gloria about how to deal with her own son and still manages to earn her most earnest apologies for her being "so silly." Oh give me a break!

     At the time this was made, in 1995, it was much vaunted as being "finally a film about strong black women." Pish!! What's "strong" about a group of women who all look superlative in power suits, but can't make an intelligent emotional decision between the four of them?! This film runs at 118 minutes too long!

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


     This disc is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 16x9 enhanced.

     The actual transfer is really rather beautiful. The print is sharp and clean, with great luminance levels, good shadow detail and crisp rendition of highlights. There is no low level noise and no motion blur to speak of.

     The colour range is equally lush and warm, with beautiful rich colours in the palette and excellent rendition of skin tones.

     This print commits no major transfer sins at all. There is a minimum of aliasing and very little by way of scratches or dust spots.

     This is an RSDL disc, but the layer change at 57:14 is extremely subtle and unobtrusive.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The soundtrack is delivered in English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. Okay - I confess - I only listened to the English track.

     The dialogue is crisp, clean and easily audible, with no sync problems evident. The subtitles were clean, clear and accurate.

     The original music soundtrack benefited with Ms Houston's involvement, but generally was something of an "also-ran" in the scheme of the film. Babyface's contributions have a little more substance.

     The surround speakers really have very little to do, and the subwoofer's presence was barely noticed at all.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     There are no extras on this disc.


     The menu is static and silent.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

       The R4 version misses out on:

      The R1 version misses out on:

      The Region 1 and Region 4 versions are much of a muchness here.


     You go girlfriend!! No... further. Even further. Go till I can't see you no more girlfriend. Sigh.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
Speakers fronts-paradigm titans, centre &rear Sony - radio parts subbie

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