Lee Daniels’s latest film follows the career of renowned jazz singer, Billie Holiday (Andra Day), as the Federal Bureau of Narcotics launches an undercover operation against her for performing “Strange Fruit”.
Fresh off of her Golden Globe win, Andra Day is remarkable in her first EVER acting performance. Capturing Miss Day’s (yes, how fitting, right?) raspy voice, fiery confidence, and raw passion, she is extremely impressive.
Her performance of “Strange Fruit” will leave viewers in awe, and shivers down your spine. Talk about a moment in film.
Will this be Day’s path to the Oscars? Unsure.
Although transformative roles — especially those that are biographical — are typically a sure fire path to receiving accolades, I feel that there were so many other actresses that blew me away (Davis, Mulligan and McDormand – to name a few).
But this a brilliant kickstart for Andra Day’s transition into acting.
Unfortunately, Day’s powerful performance is the only notable aspect in this messy biopic.
Sadly this happens far too often in film — an amazing performance is stuck in a poorly crafted story.
However, from the first scene, The United States vs. Billie Holiday suffers from an over the top Oscar-baity script and disjointed narrative structure that runs way too long.
It’s like Lee Daniels WANTED to the film to be politically driven but couldn’t help diving way too deep into the drug-addict storyline.
Yes. Obviously Billie Holiday’s drug problems played a huge part in her career, but it would have been more interesting to focus MORE on her activism and refusal to back down rather than her addiction.
Because her voice and her role in speaking out against the injustices in our country – that’s the story worthy of your attention.
Final Thoughts: Despite Day’s knockout performance, The United States vs. Billie Holiday does not do the real life activist justice.