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Waiting To Exhale
1995 - USA - 121 min - Color


A surprise Hollywood hit, this film is based on the novel of the same name by Terry McMillan and centers on four well-to-do African-American women and their relationships with men and one another. All of them are "holding their breath" until the day they can feel comfortable in a committed relationship with a man. Robin (Lela Rochon) is the long-time mistress of Russell (Leon), who keeps reneging on his promise to leave his wife for her. She dumps him to find a man she can have to herself, but her dates with a reliable but unattractive business partner (Wendell Pierce) and a drug addict (Mykelti Williamson) send her back to Russell. Savannah (Whitney Houston) is a successful television producer who also believes that her married lover Kenneth (Dennis Haysbert) will leave his wife. Bernadine (Angela Bassett) is a wealthy woman who abandoned her own career to raise a family. Her husband is now leaving her to marry a white woman. Gloria (Loretta Devine) is a beauty salon owner and single mother raising a teenage son. After years alone, she falls in love with a new neighbor, Marvin (Gregory Hines). The women share their stories over lunches and conversations at Gloria's salon. — Michael Betzold, all movie guide


Forrest Whitaker's film version of Terry McMillan's best-seller about the romantic woes of four African-American women is an entertaining soap opera. Each of these middle- to upper-middle-class women (Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Lela Rochon, and Loretta Devine) have reason to bewail the quality of men they've been involved with, and here they give vent to their anger. Whitaker's film gives these women plenty of room to stretch out, some might say too much. The film has some wonderful moments, such as Bassett burning her rich husband's clothes when he dumps her, and some hilarious riffs on their various boyfriends' sexual peccadillos, but there are also swatches of banality that could easily have been cut. None of the relationships of the women are probed in depth, and, appropriately, most of the male characters exist only to illustrate a point. Among the few exceptions is Gregory Hines, who has a nice turn as a laid-back handyman who hooks up with Devine. Despite their problems with men, the film is really a backhanded tribute to both the independence and sustaining friendship of these four women. — Michael Costello


    Whitney Houston ..... Savannah Jackson
    Angela Bassett ..... Bernadine Harris
    Loretta Devine ..... Gloria Matthews
    Lela Rochon ..... Robin Stokes
    Gregory Hines ..... Marvin King
    Dennis Haysbert ..... Kenneth
    Mykelti Williamson ..... Troy
    Michael Beach ..... John Harris, Sr.
    Leon ..... Russell
    Wendell Pierce ..... Michael
    Donald Adeosun Faison ..... Tarik Matthews
    Jeffrey D. Sams ..... Lionel
    Jazz Raycole ..... Onika Harris
    Brandon Hammond ..... John Harris, Jr.
    Starletta DuPois ..... Savannah's Mother
    Wesley Snipes ..... James Wheeler (uncredited)
    Kelly Preston ..... Kathleen (uncredited)


    Forest Whitaker - Director
    Deborah Schindler - Producer
    Ezra Swerdlow - Producer
    Ronald Bass - Executive Producer
    Terry McMillan - Executive Producer
    Caron K - Associate Producer
    Terry McMillan - Screenwriter
    Ronald Bass - Screenwriter
    Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds - Music
    Toyomichi Kurita - Cinematography
    Richard Chew - Film Editing
    Jaki Brown - Casting
    David Gropman - Production Design
    Marc Fisichella - Art Direction
    Michael W. Foxworthy - Set Decoration
    Judy L. Ruskin - Costume Design
    Thomas C. Ford - Special Effects


  • Director: Forest Whitaker
  • Genre: Comedy/Romantic Drama
  • Budget: $15,000,000
  • Box Office: $66,217,473 (USA)
  • Release: Nov 1995 (USA)