The United States Vs. Billie Holiday (2021)

The United States Vs. Billie Holiday (2021) – Movie Review

21st April 2021 Written by Peter Walkden

The United States Vs Billie Holiday follows the career of the talented jazz singer Billie Holiday.  We witness many highlights from Billie’s life, including some of the romances she had and summits of her musical career.  Taking a deep look at the many tragic moments and complicated challenges of her life, we see her drug addiction as well as the racism, violence, and sexual abuse she suffered.  We also witness the Federal Department’s determination to stop her from singing ‘Strange Fruit’, attempting to frame her or catch her in possession of drugs. 

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Andra Day stars in THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Takashi Seida.
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Andra Day’s performance as Billie Holiday is terrific and tremendous.  Her work here in bringing Billie to life is so positive I could not help but be compassionate towards Billie, and it is truly something powerful to see on the big screen.  

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Andra Day stars in THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Takashi Seida.
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Trevante Rhodes in THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Takashi Seida.

The soundtrack is a knockout. There are no magical dance numbers but many stunning musical tracks with Billie and her band performing on stage.  This music is an excellent element and sensational ingredient.  

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Andra Day and Trevante Rhodes in THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Takashi Seida.
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Andra Day stars in THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Takashi Seida.

As a plot, this film is pretty loaded.  Rather than using one element from Billie’s life to deliver a powerful message to its audience, the film has crammed in many plot points from Billie’s life.  At times, it almost feels a little unsure which message will be the film’s prime focus.  For the most part, the film’s pacing was great, but the third act had some issues for me.  As it wobbled towards its finale, many moments felt repetitive and vague, becoming tiring to see.  Viewers should also be aware that this film contains high-level drug use and nudity.  While I understand this was an attempt to make the movie feel raw and powerful, some moments, including lengthy sex scenes, feel as if they have no real purpose to the film and felt unnecessary. 

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Andra Day on the set of THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Takashi Seida.
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Overall, I found this film to be quite fascinating. The film’s major highlight is the stunning and tremendous performance by Andra Day, who is highly believable as Billie Holiday.  The soundtrack is terrific!  For the most part, I enjoyed the movie, but the film has a third act that felt repetitive and wobbles to its finish line.  No matter- the film left me with multiple feelings due to its many topics and subplots from Billie’s personal life.

7.1/10

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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Being John Malkovich (1999) - Movie Review 19th July 2021 Written by Peter Walkden Craig (John Cusack) is a talented puppeteer, but he fails to make a living off it. He lives with his wife Lotte Schwartz (Cameron Diaz), who works at a pet store and is obsessed with...

Whiplash (2014)

Whiplash (2014) - Movie Review 16th July 2021 Written by Peter Walkden Andrew (Miles Teller) is a young drummer who has dreams and the solid potential to become one of the greatest drummers of our time.  Upon joining a music conservatory group, he is given an...

In Fabric (2018)

In Fabric (2018) - Movie Review 14th July 2021 Written by Amanda Rosazza Without giving too much away, the film follows the journey of a red dress—a red dress with a curse. At the beginning of the film, we meet a lovely woman named Sheila (Marianne Jean-Baptiste),...

Agnes Joy (2019)

Rannveig (Katla M. Þorgeirsdóttir) is exhausted, overdue for a holiday and completely worn out from many elements of her life in the present day. Some of these elements include dealing with her family, which consists of her husband and only daughter, her workplace at...

Hope (2019)

Set one day before Christmas Eve, the film introduces Anja (Andrea Bræin Hovig), who lives with her long term partner Tomas (Stellen Skarsgård). Anja and Tomas are a blended family with six children. A year ago, Anja had lung cancer which was caused by heavy smoking...

Nine Days (2020)

Set in a time and place that looks like the afterlife, Will (Winston Duke) spends his days viewing the many lives of people on Earth on a stack of old tube TVs. When one of the TVs loses signal, it's up to Will to seek someone to replace the person lost.  Will...

Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021)

The ultimate NBA Basketball player and superstar LeBron James struggles to connect with his son, who enjoys making and creating high-quality videogames. LeBron feels his son should receive the same upbringing as he did, telling him to spend more time focusing on other...

Black Widow (2021)

Set between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers Infinity War, Black Widow (2021) follows Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), who is currently on the run.  While she manages to find a place to stay low, she soon receives word of a situation related to her...

Son (2021)

Laura (Andi Matichak) is a single mother who works as a school teacher and lives with her one and only son, David (Luke David Blu). Life for the two of them seems well until Laura hears some strange noise coming from her son's bedroom in the middle of the night. ...

Occupation: Rainfall (2020)

Occupation: Rainfall (2020) - Movie Review 3rd July 2021 Written by Peter Walkden The sequel focuses on a returning group of survivors, who are all from Sydney. Continuing on from the previous instalment of Occupation (2018), the aliens that landed on Earth two years...

Perfumes (2019)

Guillaume (Grégory Montel) is down on luck in the present day. He is currently going through a divorce and attempting to gain shared custody of his ten-year-old daughter. Guillaume requires a larger place to live as his apartment is far too small for both him and his...

Vicious Fun (2020)

Vicious Fun (2020) - Movie Review 1st July 2021 Written by Peter Walkden Evan Marsh as Joel - Vicious Fun _ Photo Credit: Shudder Set in the 1980s, Joel (Even Marsh) is a film critic and magazine writer passionate about all relating to the genre of horror. But life...

Volition (2019)

Volition (2019) - Movie Review 1st July 2021 Written by Peter Walkden James (Adrian Glynn McMorrian) is gifted with a unique ability.  At any moment, James can receive a glimpse into his future before key events happen.  He is haunted by his past, which...

Little Joe (2019)

Alice (Emily Beecham) is a single mother working as a highly-skilled plant breeder in a corporation lab. Alice, along with her lab partner Chris (Ben Whishaw), is on the verge of a massive discovery that could not only change the future of plants but radically...

Slither (2006)

Slither (2006) - Movie Review 28th June 2021 Written by Peter Walkden The film begins with an asteroid flying straight to Earth.  After crashing into a small town, the asteroid opens to reveal an unusual amount of slime and pink goo inside.  We then get to...

Alfie (1966)

Alfie (1966) - Movie Review 26th June 2020 Written by Peter Walkden The film introduces us to Alfie (Michael Caine), a charming, smooth-talking ladies man. Alfie introduces himself by breaking the fourth wall, looking straight into the camera and talking to the...

Black Water (2007)

Black Water (2007) - Movie Review 23rd June 2021 Written by Peter Walkden Black Water begins with the introduction of Lee (Maeve Dermody), her older sister Grace (Diana Glenn) and her long-term boyfriend Adam (Andy Rodoreda). The three decide to take a holiday in...

The Giant Claw (1957)

The Giant Claw (1957) - Movie Review 23th June 2021 Written by Peter Walkden Mitch (Jeff Morrow) is a skilled pilot and an electronics engineer who likes to make his own rules. One day, while flying and conducting several routine checks, Mitch spots something in the...

Synchronic (2019)

Synchronic (2019) - Movie Review 23rd June 2021 Written by Peter Walkden Set in the city of New Orleans, the film introduces us to two paramedics who are also close friends. Steve (Anthony Mackie) & Dennis (James Dornan) are well known for working consistently,...