Livin' for Love: The Natalie Cole Story

Watch Livin' for Love: The Natalie Cole Story

  • TV-PG
  • 2000
  • 1 hr 34 min
  • 6.6  (184)

Livin' for Love: The Natalie Cole Story is a powerful and poignant biographical film that chronicles the life, career, and personal struggles of the Grammy-winning singer Natalie Cole, who also stars in the movie playing herself. Directed by Robert Townsend and released in 2000, the film features a supporting cast that includes Diahann Carroll and James McDaniel, which helps bring depth and complexity to this moving narrative.

From the outset, Livin' for Love provides insight into the unique challenges that Natalie Cole faced, starting with her ascent in the music industry shadowed by the legendary status of her father, the iconic singer Nat King Cole. The movie doesn't shy away from exploring the complex relationship between Natalie and her father, capturing the influences that shaped her and the pressures of living up to a celebrated legacy within the demanding world of show business.

The film delves into Natalie's early life and her rise to fame in the 1970s with her memorable hits, showcasing not only her exceptional talent as a performer but also her determination to carve out her own identity in the music industry. As it navigates through her career milestones, the story intertwines her professional successes with her personal life, highlighting the highs and lows that came with fame, and the intimate moments that defined her as an individual.

One of the key dimensions of Livin' for Love is its candid examination of Natalie Cole's battles with drug addiction. The film depicts her struggles with substance abuse without sensationalizing them, offering a respectful, unvarnished look at the toll addiction took on her life, relationships, and career. Her journey towards recovery, and the challenges she faced in re-establishing her music career while fighting her personal demons, are portrayed in a compassionate and realistic manner.

The casting of Natalie Cole as herself adds an authentic and deeply personal touch to the film. Viewers are offered a unique perspective, as Cole brings an undeniable authenticity to the portrayal of her own story. Additionally, performances by Diahann Carroll, as Natalie's mother Maria Cole, and James McDaniel, in a supporting role, contribute to the emotional depth of the narrative, encapsulating the familial dynamics and support systems that played a critical role in Natalie's life.

The movie also places emphasis on Natalie Cole's relationship with her mother, played by the formidable Diahann Carroll. Their interactions reveal the love and tension that existed between them as Natalie navigates her way through the complexities of family, success, and self-discovery. Through the portrayal of this mother-daughter bond, we see the influence and strength that helped shape Natalie's character.

James McDaniel's role, though a supporting one, provides a crucial element to the story, grounding the narrative and acting as a counterbalance to the more sensational aspects of Cole's life. His performance helps to build the world around Natalie, giving viewers a fuller understanding of the various facets of her life, including the music industry's influence and her personal relationships with friends and mentors.

Furthermore, Livin' for Love does not just focus on the struggles and crises. It is also a celebration of Natalie Cole's incredible resilience and the redemption she found through her love of music. Audiences are taken on a journey with her as she finds the strength to overcome addiction, rebuild her career, and achieve new artistic heights. The film interweaves the sound of her most iconic songs with the narrative, allowing the music to serve as both a soundtrack and a commentary on the moments being depicted onscreen.

An integral element to the narrative is the inclusion of musical performances that capture Cole's charisma and the passion that made her a star. These performances are not just reenactments but serve as emotional touchpoints throughout the film, mirroring her inner state and the transformative power that music had in her life.

Visually, the film reflects the changing times of Natalie Cole's career, offering viewers a glimpse into the fashion, attitudes, and cultural backdrop of the eras represented. This attention to period detail helps to anchor the film in its respective timelines, from the glitter and excess of the 70s to the more sobering moments of the 80s and beyond.

Livin' for Love: The Natalie Cole Story is ultimately a film about triumph over adversity. It is a testament to Natalie Cole's talent and spirit, presenting a multi-layered portrait of a woman who faced extraordinary challenges but never lost sight of her dreams. For fans of her music and newcomers alike, the film offers an insightful and inspiring look at the life of a woman who truly lived for love—the love of her family, her art, and her unwavering desire to give her all to both.

Livin' for Love: The Natalie Cole Story is a 2000 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 34 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.6.

Livin' for Love: The Natalie Cole Story
Where to Watch Livin' for Love: The Natalie Cole Story
Livin' for Love: The Natalie Cole Story is available to watch free on The Roku Channel Free, Pluto TV and Tubi TV. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, Apple TV Channels and Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent Livin' for Love: The Natalie Cole Story for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 34 min
  • IMDB Rating
    6.6  (184)