News of a Marvin Gaye biopic has been discussed as far back as five or six years ago. Then it disappeared for a few years, only to resurface again recently. In what likely constitutes as a four-minute promo package, the Julien Temple-directed Sexual Healing details Marvin’s tumultuous 1981 as he recorded Midnight Run in Belgium during what has long since been detailed as the height of his cocaine addiction.
Keep in mind also, in ’81, Marvin was seen by many as a recluse whose finest days in music were a distant memory. Coupling those demons with a host of lingering issues around Gaye at the time – the failed marriages, time away from his kids plus the combative relationship with his father – and it’d only seem like a no brainer a biopic of this magnitude would hit theaters.
Without speaking for anyone else, Jesse L. Martin – of Broadway and Law & Order fame – has a spot on resemblance to Marvin, both looks and personality wise. But here’s the kicker. It may never see the light of day, or at least not for a long time because of finances. According to Shadow & Act, Focus Features International – the company who picked the film up and made its presence felt at the Cannes Film Festival – pulled out.
Crew members were said to have not yet been paid fully for their work on the film, with one of the film’s producers, Jimmy De Brabant, telling ScreenDaily that there was apparently a cash flow problem with the American investor backing the film; although he added that the funding that was promised by this investor had not yet arrived, but emphasized patience with the film’s cast and crew, suggesting that the money was indeed coming.
Healing’s original release date was set to be April 1, 2014 – the 30th anniversary of Marvin’s death. At last check, only 70% of the film was completed after proceedings were put on ice with only three weeks left to shoot. Gaye represents a beacon of imperfection of sorts; the kind of megastar whose flaws only helped to heighten the allure and importance of his music, a similar blueprint tortured icons who followed him a la Tupac Shakur and Amy Winehouse were forced to endure.
Only time will tell if Healing lives to see its original release date. Hopefully it does. This isn’t some fly-by-night film typed in a Starbucks loaded off frappuccinos. It’s the story, instead, of one of America’s signature souls of the past century recording his most successful album during perhaps the darkest period of his life.
Some scripts write themselves. Literally.