The State against a great singer

United States vs. Billie Holiday (United States, 2021), by director Lee Daniels, is about the true story of the African-American singer Billie Holiday (Andrea Day).

Suzan-Lori Park’s screenplay is based on the book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, by British journalist Johann Hari.

The story takes place between the late 1940s and the 1950s, which are the last years of the singer’s life.

Holiday (1915-1959) transcended the space of the African American community and became one of the most important jazz singers in the United States.

In those years the entertainment world was one of the few sectors that offered a place for the performances of African American artists to be seen by whites in a mixed environment.

The singer in 1939 recorded the song Strange Fruit, a complaint against the terrible custom in the southern states of hanging African-Americans suspected of having committed a crime in trees.

In the film, it is said that when Holiday’s popularity began to grow, the FBI saw the singer as a figure who with her singing raised awareness in the African-American community.

She could not be jailed for singing and then an investigation was launched to accuse her of drug use, particularly heroin. At the age of 44, she dies as a result of drugs.

In recent years, Hollywood cinema has set out to recover certain moments in African-American history and culture, which until now had been forgotten. It is in this context that this play about Holiday is filmed.

The specialized criticism is very harsh and they suggest that the film is full of common places. The heroine martyr and the racist villain of the FBI. Good’s and bad’s. They also say that it has a chaotic structure. It is never clear whether the film is a denunciation of the system or an apology for delusion.

They coincide in pointing out the very good performance of the singer Andra Day. This is your first movie. In her role she manages to amalgamate the contradictions of a strong woman while living in subjection to the men who are her partner and mistreat her. She was nominated at the Oscars for best actress and won the Golden Globe for best actress in a drama.

United States vs. Billie Holiday

Original title: The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Production: United States, 2021

Direction: Lee Daniels

Screenplay: Suzan-Lori Park based on a novel by Johan Hari

Photography: Andrew Dunn

Music: Fris Bowers

Actuación: Andra Day, Trevante Rhodes, Natasha Lyonne, Garrett Hedlund, Rob Morgan, Tone Bell, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Evan Ross, Dana Gourrier, Melvin Gregg, Erik LaRay Harvey, Tristan D. Lalla, Kwasi Songui …


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The State against a great singer