Parents' Guide to


By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Language, graphic tales of abuse in powerful documentary.

TV HBO Reality TV 2021
Tina Poster Image

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Emotionally involving and memorable, this intimate, sprawling portrait shows us a great artist taking stock of her life and reckoning with her iconic status at the (self-chosen) end of her career. And though the domestic abuse that Tina Turner famously suffered at the hands of her ex (and former Svengali), Ike Turner, is perhaps the part of her life we know best going in, Tina also makes a case for how Turner's past ultimately dogged her throughout her life and continued to cause her trauma, despite her attempts to close the book on Ike and his misdeeds. Painfully, Tina underlines how often the press and the public pressed her for reminiscences of her abuse. Clips from vintage talk shows and interviews demonstrate that questioning always, always came around to the one topic Turner hoped to put behind her so that she could move on towards a confident future. Even Tina itself dedicates a significant part of its running time to telling this segment of her life story.

It's powerful and deeply moving to hear Turner describe in her own words how she was abused, physically, emotionally, financially, and sexually. It's possibly even more excoriating to hear from Turner's late son Craig, who relates an appalling incident in which Ike threw scalding coffee on Turner, giving her third degree burns as the Turner children listened in horror from another room. Turner's depiction of the night she finally ran from Ike is as gripping as any thriller. But then Turner's life, and Tina itself, goes on. She finds inner peace through Buddhism; she weathers a period of musical failure; she engineers a new sound that puts her back on top; she finds love with the former music exec who remains happily with her over three decades later. Tina has the beats of a Behind the Music, but long scenes of her incendiary stage work and revealing interviews with her contemporaries make this documentary feel like something else: a revealing and very human portrait of an icon.

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