Combustible Celluloid
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With: Andra Day, Trevante Rhodes, Garrett Hedlund, Leslie Jordan, Miss Lawrence, Adriane Lenox, Rob Morgan, Natasha Lyonne, Da'vine Joy Randolph, Tone Bell, Evan Ross, Tyler James Williams, Blake DeLong, Dana Gourrier, Melvin Gregg
Written by: Suzan-Lori Parks, based on a book by Johann Hari
Directed by: Lee Daniels
MPAA Rating: R for strong drug content, sexual content, nudity, language throughout, some lynching images and violence
Running Time: 130
Date: 02/21/2021

The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Passion 'Fruit'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Lee Daniels's The United States vs Billie Holiday tells the story of Holiday's battle with the Federal Department of Narcotics, which targeted her via an undercover operation, in an ultimate attempt to shut down her performances of the controversial, powerful song "Strange Fruit." It moves with the same kind of flabby, airily serious quality that Daniels's The Butler did, and it carelessly and readily dives into all the kinds of biopic cliches that we see many times each year (including an already well-documented disregard for the facts). But the movie is worth seeing for the electrifying Andra Day, a singer by trade, making her full-fledged acting debut here. Her fierce, unfurled Holiday is not only an amazing tribute, but one that feels for all the world like the real thing. She has already won the Golden Globe and is currently nominated for an Oscar.

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