Glitter (film)

Glitter (film)

Glitter is a 2001 American drama film directed by Vondie Curtis-Hall and starring pop/R&B/soul singer Mariah Carey. It was produced by 20th Century Fox and Columbia Pictures. It centers on the life and times of a struggling singer from the early club music scene in the 1980s. Its soundtrack album, Glitter, was Carey's eighth studio album, a concept album of the sounds of the early 1980s. Largely panned by critics and audiences alike, the movie performed poorly in theatres after it was labelled a vanity project and being an almost autobiographical account of Carey's life.

The film was shot in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


There were already plans for this film in 1999, when it was originally called All That Glitters. Mariah started writing and recording material for the film as early as 1998, but when the project was delayed, those new songs were used towards her Rainbow album. But it was not until September 20 2001 that the film was released, by this time renamed Glitter. Based loosely on Carey's own life, it tells the story of a mixed-race woman who is abandoned by her white father and taken from her black mother to be raised by foster parents. After years of hardship she finds fame and fortune as a 1980s pop star, then goes looking for her mother. This is the opposite of Carey's actual life in which her parents divorced, and she left her wealthy black father, to stay with her working class, white mother.

Carey has said about the film, "It's in the early '80s, in the club scene of that time. I play a singer, Billie, who's mixed race, from a white father and a black mother. Billie grows up in a foster home, because her mother abandoned her. Later on she meets a DJ and becomes a star in just one night. The point is, that all this time she waits for her mother to return. As you can see, this is far away from my reality, because I couldn't have a closer relationship with my own mother. When she's not with me, she calls like every five minutes."

Plot summary

The story of Billie Frank starts out several years in the past as Billie and her mother, Lillian, are seen at a nightclub, where Lillian is a performer. After a rousing performance met with little applause, Lillian tries to get the crowd excited by singing her signature tune, "Lillian's Blues", with young Billie accompanying her on vocals. Unfortunately, the ploy fails and Lillian is fired. Now unemployed, she resorts to asking her ex-lover, Billie's father, for money. That night, Lillian, depressed and tired, carelessly falls asleep before putting out her cigarettes. A fire soon ensues, and the entire apartment complex has to be evacuated. Due to her actions, Billie is taken away to foster care, but Lillian promises she will get her soon.

Lillian's promises never materialize, as years later, Billie Frank has grown up and is now a dancer at a club with her friends, Louise and Roxanne. Their actions catch the attention of Timothy Walker , and he offers a contract to the three girls as backup singers/dancers to the artist known only as Sylk. Initially, Billie refuses the offer, wanting to achieve her dreams of stardom on her own terms. However, after pestering from her friends, Billie relents, and the three are contracted to Timothy Walker.

Among the first tasks of being background singers for Sylk is the recording of the hit single, "All My Life". At first Sylk seems to deliver a solid vocal performance, but it soon becomes apparent that she is way out of tune and that her voice is generally unpleasant. In a ploy to capitalize on the sex appeal of Sylk, but with powerful vocals, Timothy Walker then asks Billie to resing Sylk's part. Sylk, for her own part, seems to be happy that she is being "ghosted", but remains a bit uneasy with this notion.

Later at an exclusive nightclub DJed by Julian "Dice" Black, Sylk debuts "All My Life". Dice is at first shocked, because he had previously believed that Sylk sounded different, but nevertheless goes backstage after her performance to congratulate her. It is at this moment that Sylk makes the fatal error of insulting her background singers in front of a photographer. Billie, not wanting to take the verbal abuse, then exposes Sylk as a fraud by singing "All My Life" a cappella in front of Dice.

Dice, impressed with what he has heard, tries to convince Billie to let him produce tracks for her, but she initially turns him down. When she finally relents, she raises concerns about her contract with Timothy Walker. Dice assures her that it will be no problem and goes to speak to Timothy Walker. At first, Timothy Walker and Dice act chummy like old friends, but attitudes soon turn harsh when Dice threatens to not play any more artists from Walker in his nightclub, unless Timothy surrenders the contact of Billie Frank and her friends. Timothy eventually relents, but on the provision that he be provided $100,000.

Billie and Dice soon start working on songs with the first being the hit underground single, "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On". Dice also teaches Billie how to use discretion in the music business by refusing offers from smaller record labels in hopes of better ones. The plan works, as they eventually accept an offer from Guy Richardson of a major record label.

With success in their hands, Dice asks Billie out to have dinner with him. Afterwards, he asks her to come up to his apartment for a bit. Billie at first refuses, knowing that he just wants to sleep with her, but she is finally convinced to come up for a few minutes. Dice then begins to explain his life story and his musical dreams to Billie. Billie is so touched by his dreams, that she makes the first move, and they eventually end up sleeping together.

Work is soon started on Billie's first major single, "Loverboy". The single is a huge success, and a music video is eventually ordered to be made. The video originally features Billie, Louise and Roxanne dancing in bliss amidst glitter. However, the director of the music video, unsatisfied with the results, orders Billie to wear more revealing clothing and replaces Louise and Roxanne with a legion of professional semi-nude male dancers. When the male dancers are then ordered to dance closely to Billie, this frightens her to the point where Dice intervenes on her behalf, and the two leave the set before the music video can be finished.

Things begin to go downhill as more drama ensues, including Dice being denied permission to produce songs on Billie's debt, including "Reflections", a song Billie has written about her mother. Billie is soon called to perform at the USA Music Awards, where she meets singer/songwriter, Rafael, for the first time. Later at the after party, Rafael meets up with Billie again, and suggests that they write a song together. Dice, furious with being denied permission to produce and miffed by Rafael, orders Billie and her friends to leave the after party, accusing Rafael of sexual advances towards Billie. When Louise and Roxanne try to intervene, however, Dice calls Louise "fatass", and they give Billie an ultimatum: them or Dice. But then they leave before Billie can choose. Dice tries to comfort her, but she pushes him away. Billie breaks down in tears later, but she is comforted by Dice as she laments "If you didn't believe in me, none of this would have ever happened".

The reconciliation is short lived as Billie soon receives a threat from Timothy Walker concerning the debt that Dice has failed to pay. Eventually, Dice returns to the apartment and Billie is furious at Dice as she thought he had handled her contract properly before. Dice, not handling the situation well, goes near the living quarters of Timothy Walker and ambushes him to the point of hospitalization. For his actions, Dice is held in police custody, prompting Billie to cancel a scheduled appearance on Saturday Night Live. Billie is furious as she had not asked for him to attack Timothy. She and Dice have a falling-out, which results in Billie, taken aback by the drama, deciding to leave Dice, staying with her estranged friends.

At first, Billie tries to deal with the pain by finally getting a chance to write with singer/songwriter, Rafael. They create the single "Want You", which goes onto become a major hit single. However, eventually, Billie can't deal with the breakup and deals with her emotional pain by writing a song. Dice also misses Billie, and also begins writing a song. Later, Billie sneaks into Dice's apartment in an attempt to reconcile. He is not home, but the music he has written is. In a touching moment, Billie realizes that they wrote the same song (which came to be known as "Never Too Far"). She kisses the sheet music, leaving a lipstick imprint, which Dice later discovers.

Dice then plans to reconcile with Billie, even with the intention of seeing her sold out performance in Madison Square Garden, but it never comes to be, as he is soon shot to death by Timothy Walker in revenge. The news soon reaches Billie's management and support crew who then see a report of on it television. As they wonder how to break the news to Billie, she walks in and is duly shocked. Since Billie cannot cancel the sold-out concert, she somberly walks into the crowd, who have been festively grooving along to an instrumental track of "Loverboy" performed by Billie's dancers. Billie is in no mood for lighthearted songs, and commands the band to stop playing "Loverboy" when she reaches the stage. Billie then warns the crowd never to take life for granted, before launching into her performance of "Never Too Far".

After her concert has ended, Billie can be seen in a limo reading a note that Dice had left her before his death. In it, he tells he loves her, that he had planned to see her perform, and that he located Billie's mother. Without rest, the limo drives Billie to a secluded location where she is reunited with her mother, and they both cry in each other's arms.


The reviews Glitter received were mostly negative and the film performed poorly in theaters. In the US, it was released in 1,196 theaters and was the eleventh highest-grossing movie over its opening weekend, taking in $5 million. It was originally scheduled to open over Labor Day weekend, but the film was pushed back three weeks when Carey checked into a hospital for extreme exhaustion.

Carey said she looked back at that period "as something that had to happen in my life. That time period was so blown out of proportion. That movie and that soundtrack — which had some really good songs that hopefully one day I'll get to redo — the fact it came out on September 11, people need to remember. How can we expect anything from that? I was a scapegoat in a lot of ways for talk show hosts who wanted to get away from the real stuff going on in the world. We all have to go through our tests to see how strong we are and come out on the other side." Many industry insiders, however, have noted that Carey was no more at a disadvantage on the charts than any other recording artist at the time. They feel the album simply didn't do well due to poor reviews.

The film received five nominations (and one win: Carey, for "Worst Actress") at the 2001 Golden Raspberry Awards, and has been considered one of the worst films ever made. Roger Ebert spoke well of Carey's individual performance saying, "Her [Carey's] acting ranges from dutiful flirtatiousness to intense sincerity..., but as of April 30, 2008, it was number 37 on the Internet Movie Database's list of the worst 100 films of all time.

The accompanying soundtrack, Glitter, became Carey's worst showing on the charts. The first single, "Loverboy", remained in the bottom reaches of the U.S. Hot 100 for several weeks. The song finally did better chart-wise when Virgin Records cut the price of the single to 99 cents, thus picking up sales, and helping the single obtain a better chart position; peaking at number two. Two follow-up singles did not manage to crack the Hot 100 at all. The album itself initially struggled to go gold in the U.S., and became the lowest selling album of her career to date. To date, it has been certified platinum. The record company Virgin/EMI dropped Carey from the label due to the poor reception of the album.


Role Actor
Billie Frank Mariah Carey
Julian "Dice" Black Max Beesley
Timothy Walker Terrence Howard
Lillian Frank Valerie Pettiford
Kelly Ann Magnuson
Guy Richardson Dorian Harewood
Jack Bridges Grant Nickalls
Louise Da Brat
Roxanne Tia Texada
Rafael Eric Benét
Sylk Padma Lakshmi

See also


External links

  • Official Site
  • Glitter Blog An in-depth exploration of all things Glitter
  • Lengthy review/recap at Jabootu's Bad Movie Dimension

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