Fantasia Barrino’s Lifetime movie debuts Saturday

American Idol 3 winner Fantasia Barrino’s life story becomes a made-for-TV movie starting tomorrow night at 9 p.m. ET on Lifetime. (It also airs Sunday at 8 and Monday at 9.) The movie has already generated controversy, in particular with its accusation that Idol producers asked Fantasia to quit the show.

The film is based upon the book of the same name, which Fantasia wrote, and Fantasia also stars and sings in the movie, which is directed by Debbie Allen. Unfortunately, those who’ve seen the film seem to think all of that was a terrible idea.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Ray Richmond says that Fantasia just “can’t act. She’s very sweet and all, but she tends to gobble her words and expresses range by lowering her eyes, as if the answer to life lay somewhere at her feet.” He adds that “the capacity to convey a certain depth of emotion on cue would seem to be a minimum prerequisite,” but Fantasia “obviously tries hard but can’t pull it off, no matter how much director Debbie Allen tries to drill it into her.”

The New York Times’ Virginia Heffernan writes that the film is “a blandly shot, after-school-style parable about redemption that has none of the grit and texture of Fantasia’s voice or persona.” And The Mercury News’ Charlie McCollum agrees that “the execution is so dreadful that it’s hard to imagine anyone other than the members of Barrino’s fan club getting past the first 15 minutes.”

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