What a brilliant idea: to examine a famous artist’s long career through the lens of a single record. This documentary takes US hip-hop and soul queen Mary J Blige’s canonical 1994 album, My Life, as its starting point. Archive footage of Blige growing up in Yonkers soon gives way to the now 50-year-old’s generic reflections on the themes of self-love and depression.
The film is padded out with toothless interviews with her celebrity friends and colleagues (including P Diddy, Alicia Keys, Nas and the actor Taraji P Henson) and dispiritingly literal animated inserts. Footage of recent concerts and meet and greets is included to showcase both her imperious glamour and how far she’s come, yet we never really get a sense of where she’s been, let alone My Life’s musical and cultural context.