Review: 'What Happened, Miss Simone?' only sings when Nina Simone sings

January 23, 2015 8:23 AM

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Liz Garbus' "What Happened, Miss Simone?" begins with footage of Nina Simone taking the stage at the 1976 Montreaux Jazz Festival. It was a performance that simultaneously represented a comeback from self-imposed exile for the iconic chanteuse, but also has been used as an example of the mercurial, erratic and occasionally bizarre work that characterized the middle of Simone's career.

Simone stands in front of her piano and takes a prolonged bow. She stares into the audience and seemingly off into space. There's almost no way to read her. Is she embracing the applause? Is she alienated in the spotlight? Is this her dream? Is it her nightmare?

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