Will the Marvin Gaye Movie Be Any Good?

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Sept. 19 2013 12:24 PM

Will the Marvin Gaye Movie Be Any Good?

gaye_movie
Jesse Martin as Marvin Gaye in Sexual Healing

YouTube

The biopic is a mostly benighted genre. One of the ways to escape the category’s pitfalls is to focus on a specific period in a famous person’s life, rather than attempting to present the whole sweep from birth to death. Think Lincoln, for instance. But this strategy alone is not enough: You need a writer who can avoid the cringe-worthy exposition such exercises are prone to.

Judging from its promo reel, Sexual Healing, Julien Temple’s Marvin Gaye picture, may have needed a rewrite. The movie zeroes in on the early 1980s, when Gaye’s life was unraveling, and, in star Jesse Martin, it has a Gaye stand-in who both looks the part and can sing (at least by reputation—his rendition of the titular song in the footage below is hardly pitch perfect). It also has an appealing supporting cast, which includes S. Epatha Merkerson and Clarke Peters. But then it has clunkers like this in the script: “Is there a problem?” “Yeah, there is. I’m Marvin Gaye.”

Advertisement

The movie is apparently scheduled for an April 1, 2014 release; as Tambay Obenson notes over at IndieWire, that’s both the 30th anniversary of Gaye’s death and a Tuesday. Given the midweek premiere date, it’s not clear how widely distributed this film will be. Whatever its future, I hope the finished product feel like a more fitting tribute to the musical legend than the four minutes above.

Update, Dec. 1: The promo reel has been removed at the request of New Nation Film.

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Propublica
Oct. 17 2014 4:21 PM Why the Poor Pay $1,400 for Old iPads #MuckReads: A weekly roundup of investigative reporting from ProPublica.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 1:54 PM Republican Midterm Debate Strategy: Be Pro-Life, But Not Anti-Abortion
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 19 2014 7:30 AM Persistence Pays Off: The Smoking Trail of a Shooting Star
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.