“The United States VS. Billie Holiday” is currently streaming on Hulu alongside “Nomadland.” It received mixed reviews from critics. Despite divisive reactions, The United States VS. Billie Holiday is nominated for two Golden Globe Awards for “Best Actress In A Drama” (Andra Day”) & “Best Original Song.” (Tigress And Tweed)
“The 78th Golden Globes” will officially air on February 28th on NBC. I confess. I never heard of Billie Holiday, when I scrolled through Leslie Jordan’s Instagram account he was in it. I thought about giving it a try before The 78th Golden Globes air tonight.
I don’t care if SPOILERS are listed. Some of us know about the singer’s tragic life. If you’re not familiar with her career and personal life, watch the movie first. One more thing, this is a short review, because I have a lot on my plate to watch a couple of nominated movies and shows before The Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild & The Academy Awards will air on different months. I’m working on my Top 12 Films Of 2020, select which films I enjoyed. By the way, I’m also working on a Top 20 Best Things Of 2020 combining films, shows/mini-series, video games and albums all together. Please give me some time.
Positive & Negative Elements
Positive: Andra Day did a fantastic job for her performance as Billie Holiday. A talented singer in real life, Andra did her own singing without pulling a Milli Vanilli.
Other Cast Members such as Trevante Rhodes, Natasha Lyonne & Leslie Jordan all did a great job for their respective performances.
Lee Daniels (Precious, The Butler, Fox’s Empire) did a good job directing. He also served as a co-producer for the biopic.
A book titled, “Chasing The Scream” is actually how the movie is based on the source material.
The movie is set in The 40’s-50’s before Billie’s tragic death.
Set Pieces recreate The 40’s-50’s going back in time.
We get more details about Billie’s troubled childhood, her drug addiction, U.S. government making her look like a bad influence due to her song “Strange Fruit” which was controversial at the time in response to the government refusing to pass a bill to ban lynching and develops a relationship with a black FBI agent named, Jimmy Fletcher who’s tasked to keep in eye on her and make her look like a bad influence by exposing her drug addiction.
Chemistry between Billie & Jimmy felt organic. As the biopic progresses, Jimmy begins to develop a soft spot for Billie ignoring orders from the FBI.
Various texts at the end of the film address Billie’s legacy. Strange Fruit is ultimately inducted into the “Grammy Hall Of Fame.”
Negative: Cinematography suffers from a bad case of Shaky Cam. Ugh! Does anybody know how to keep a camera still? It’s not rocket science!
The movie can be jarring at times. For example, Billie talks about her professional and personal life to Leslie Jones’ character, Reginald Lord Devine as her background is told via flashbacks. As her life story moves forward, flashbacks within a flashback feels disjointed. One flashback is enough for the audience to engage a specific individual’s past. Screenwriting 101. If you’re gonna craft a flashback, you can’t add multiple flashbacks all at once.
The Final Verdict: B, BROADWAY LIGHTS SHINING!
Despite my two gripes involving poor cinematography and puzzling flashbacks, The United States VS. Billie Holiday is somewhat a surprisingly great biopic. If you’re interested in seeing this biopic. Go ahead and give it a watch.
NOTE: I have a big confession. Even though I’ve given The United States VS. Billie Holiday a positive grade, I think it’s too soon for a movie that came out recently in 2021, should’ve been saved for next years “The 79th Golden Globe Awards.” Look, I’m not being a racist, (I do not condone racism) I’m trying to clarify that a movie regardless of race, gender, religion and sexuality should be a suitable candidate for a specific month related to the year it came out. It’s like Tom And Jerry’s 2021 film nominated for “Best Animated Film” next to “Soul” & “Onward.” Both films came out last year. Tom And Jerry however, was released not too long ago. Dear Golden Globes, Screen Actors & Academy Awards, please do me a favor and choose an acclaimed film released one year ago, instead of approving a new one immediately.