Fifth about The Seventh

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

The United States vs. Billie Holiday: Lee Daniels’ biopic of Billie Holiday feels less a movie and more an excuse to go from a performance of one of her songs to another. The music, of course, is incredible; the film, not so much. First, the performances, as they have very little to do with the narrative, keep the storytelling in constant stop-and-go, dragging the pace tremendously. Second, the storytelling that is actually there is by-the-numbers, superficial, heavy-handed; the characters are paper-thin, if they get so lucky. Andra Day has a passing resemblance to Holiday and her covers are decent enough, but her acting is mostly mimicking Holiday’s speech patterns. The supporting performers don’t do all that well, partly because of the quality of the writing. Aesthetically, the film is very conventional; director of photography Andrew Dunn’s images have a typical golden hue and very square framing; production and costume design are pedestrian in their execution.

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