Parents' Guide to

Mary J. Blige's My Life

By Monique Jones, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Docu has mature content, promotes empathy and perseverance.

Movie R 2021 81 minutes
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This documentary is an excellent primer for Blige fans old and new, as well as for music aficionados in general. Mary J. Blige's My Life focuses extensively on Blige's personal traumas, which served as inspiration for some of her bestselling albums, including My Life. Blige recounts how dark times in her life -- such as being sexually molested as a child, growing up in an abusive environment, and feeling the weight of systemic oppression -- threatened to destroy her. It was only through music that she was able to keep her head above proverbial water and find peace and a safe place to express self-love.

The film doesn't shy away from delving into Blige's experiences with depression and suicidal ideation, which is in keeping with her raw, vulnerable songwriting style. But it also keeps some of Blige's secrets hidden from viewers; at one point, in particular, Blige explicitly says that there are still some things from her past that she doesn't want to share. But what she does share is more than enough to help viewers understand that, for Blige, the truth in her music is authentic. The film shows Blige at a happier, more stable place in her life as a middle-aged woman, but there are still hints of darkness around the light at the end of the tunnel. It's clear that her journey isn't done -- she says so herself. The message of Blige's cautious optimism is that, even with life's many struggles, self-love is the only thing that will keep a person grounded and ready to face anything. Her fans, who've identified with her struggle, will recognize and feel inspired by this lesson, and most viewers who watch Mary J. Blige's My Life will feel inspired too.

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