Waiting to Exhale (1995)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  22 December 1995 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 7,100 users  
Reviews: 47 user | 27 critic

Based on Terry McMillan's novel, this film follows four very different African-American women and their relationships with the male gender.



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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8 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Onika Harris
Brandon Hammond ...


This story based on the best selling novel by Terry McMillan follows the lives of four African-American women as they try to deal with their very lives. Friendship becomes the strongest bond between these women as men, careers, and families take them in different directions. Often light-hearted this movie speaks about some of the problems and struggles the modern women face in today's world. Written by David Adrine <hdadrine@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Friends are the people who let you be yourself... and never let you forget it.


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some strong sexuality | See all certifications »




Release Date:

22 December 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

4 Mulheres Apaixonadas  »

Box Office


$16,000,000 (estimated)


£1,240,401 (UK) (23 February 1996)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Although Whitaker had earlier directed an HBO drama called Strapped (1993) - for which he received Best New Director honors at the Toronto Film Festival - this film was his first job directing a full-length feature film. See more »


When Robin is in bed with Michael, she takes off her underwear and then when he goes to put the condom on, but a minute later her underwear is still on. See more »


Bernadine Harris: [Arguing about money at John's office] Who do you think started this damn company, huh? And now, you think you can just take the money and run...
John Harris, Sr.: Business hasn't been good for years, but don't you worry, you'll get what's coming to you.
Bernadine Harris: Hell, I'm not worried... you, on the other hand, should be.
John Harris, Sr.: I am prepared to offer you $300,000 cash, *today*.
Bernadine Harris: Your children aren't for sale.
[walks away]
John Harris, Sr.: Oh by the way, I'm coming to pick up my kids on Saturday.
Bernadine Harris: Yeah?
[Walks back toward John]
Bernadine Harris: And if I hear you had...
See more »


Referenced in Fort Alpha: Sabotage (1997) See more »


Why Does It Hurt So Bad?
Performed by Whitney Houston
Written by Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds (as Babyface)
Produced by Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds (as Babyface) for Ecaf Productions
Whitney Houston appears courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

Don't Exhale Just Yet
27 July 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I have the video of this movie and it grew on me as time passed. It's not a great movie but it is enjoyable and as has been pointed out by others, it feels good to see a movie about women of color for a change. However, the movie would not have been watchable without the formidable talents of Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine. I felt that they really were Bernadine and Gloria -- even their smallest gestures were in tune with their characters. I don't have the words to describe what fine actors these ladies are and their skills are right up there with Debra Winger, Holly Hunter, Alfre Woodard and others.

Gloria seemed to be the only moral woman in the lot. She was adorable as an overweight, insecure no-nonsense business woman and mother. She didn't think she was worthy of love because of her weight, but she was the only one who found it (and deserved it). She was the only one who didn't sleep around, wasn't a man basher, set a good example for her son, and gave good advice to her girlfriends. The other three could learn a lot from her. Loretta Devine has a really beautiful face -- look past the weight and for those of you who judge people by such things, her skin color. She has wonderfully expressive eyes and attractive features. I think it was noteworthy that Gregory Hines' character saw her real beauty and responded to it. His character was a decent, good man and I'm glad this was addressed in the movie.

Angela Bassett has always been one of my favorite actors. She is the total package --- beauty and talent. Her character wasn't perfect but Bernadine did take responsibility for the mistakes she made in her life. She was so much better off without that reprehensible excuse for a husband in her life - she could now start her catering business, she had a possible new love in her future and she had good friends that would always be there for her. I was as happy for her as if I were really one of her girlfriends when things turned out well for her in the end.

Lela Rochon didn't display any acting talent here and wasn't quite up to the job of conveying Robin's vulnerability and immaturity. She was little more than a tearaway that slept around and made dumb choices. In the book, you realized that Robin had a lot of love to give a man and didn't seem to know how to choose a good one to bestow it on. She was obviously beautiful and decently educated but she lacked common sense and had never really gotten over her betrayal by a man she had really loved. Her mother was a cancer survivor and her father suffered from advance Alzheimer's disease. I don't feel they rounded out this character at all and she didn't seem like an actual person. Just a cute slut who wondered why she got used by men.

Poor Whitney has no acting skills whatsoever! Every character she attempts to portray is exactly the same -- Whitney Houston being well groomed, pretending to be well spoken and classy, and looking cow eyed at whatever male actor she is paired with. Its a shame because Savannah should have been played by someone like Angela Bassett or Kimberly Elise (although she might have been too young). The character had to tell us she was smart -- in a phone conversation with her mother she said "I'm smart, I'm a good person and I work hard." Thank goodness she told us because we sure wouldn't have known otherwise. She has sex with a man she doesn't like at all and doesn't even know well and then has an affair with a married man and calls him scum! She has poor conversational skills, doesn't really seem interested in her friends'problems and preferred to roll her big eyes and act as if she were so above whatever little difficulties they were going through. Savannah would be such a waste of time for any man unless she took a long hard look at herself. She deserved to be by herself at the end.

This movie might have been better with a female director, as Forest Whitaker didn't "tell this story" properly at all. We ended up not liking or caring about the characters because we really didn't get a strong sense of who they were.

Also, was it me, or was everything in this movie either orange or blue?

13 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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