Film: The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Opened: February 26, 2021

Directed by: Lee Daniels

Starring: Andra Day, Trevante Rhodes, Natasha Lyonne, Garrett Hedlund, Miss Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Evan Ross, Tyler James Williams, Tone Bell, Erik LaRay Harvey, Melvin Gregg, Dana Gourrier, Adriane Lenox & Leslie Jordan

Though the passionate performance by Andra Day at the center of the film is gripping, The United States vs. Billie Holiday lacks from a script lacking direction and a director that can’t decide on the style.

Jazz singer Billie Holiday (Day) is targeted by the government – with Harry J. Anslinger (Garrett Hedlund) leading the charge – when she refuses to stop singing her controversial song “Strange Fruit.” In her final years, Holiday struggles with drug abuse.

Grammy-nominee Day’s inexperience with acting is hardly noticeable as she commands a presence. While surrounded by great supporting players, she’ll be the one memorable thing to come out of this film.

Lee Daniels switches up the style often, but the edits that create it are sloppy and take you out of the film.

Final say: Holiday wins but she’s the only one. ★★★☆☆

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