Waiting to Exhale that put the genre on the map. Based on the best-selling book by Terry McMillan, this movie set the world alight when it was released in 1996. I was in the cinema watching with my bestie the first night it was released and you could feel a real frenzy in the air. Waiting to Exhale is the story of four African American friends called Bernadette Harris played by Angela Bassett, Savannah Jackson played by Whitney Houston, Robin Stokes played by Lela Rochon and Gloria Matthews played by Loretta Devine who are at different stages of their lives. Bernadette's perfect life is turned upside down when her husband of ten years ups and leaves her and their two kids for his secretary and she is forced to go to court to fight for what is rightfully hers. Savannah has it all, great looks, independence, fabulous job and apartment but the only thing that is missing is the right guy. Robin is a high powered executive who is blessed with stunning looks and a smart brain yet lacks serious judgement when it comes to picking guys. Gloria runs her own successful salon and spends the rest of her time keeping an eye on her teenage son and has more or less given up on the idea of finding romance.
To me Waiting to Exhale set a precedence in the way women related to each other in films and TV - we had independent and sassy women who juggled careers, family, love lives and friends and who also spoke frankly to each other about their desires. It was a trend that was later emulated in Sex and the City, Lipstick Jungle, Soul Food and Girlfriends. That film was really ahead of its time and when I watch it now it still has a really fresh feel to it. All the issues that are covered are relevant today and the dialogue is as sharp as ever. Also it is one of a few films where the adaptation is just as good as the book. The first person narrative in the film worked amazingly well and gave us a real insight into the four women's personalities. Waiting to Exhale has it all, humour, love and friendship all wrapped up in a fantastic package. Much to my delight a sequel to the book was released last year which is rumoured to be turned into a film hopefully with the original cast. I can't wait.
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