A year ago it was the broken child prodigy Judy Gardland in the fatal drift of her maturity, and now it is the turn of another fragile legend, Billie Holiday, jazz myth and target for years of the Federal Department of Narcotics of her country for her consumption of heroin. The United States vs. Billie Holiday is the new biopic destined to illustrate a Wikipedia script that fails to offer its own gaze on the artist and that limits itself to exposing without too much subtlety the ordeal that the singer suffered due to her addiction and her famous anti-racist anthem Strange Fruit.
The film opens with a terrifying photograph of a proud and defiant group of white men posing armed for the camera while their trophy is displayed at their feet: what remains of a black man who has just been lynched. It is not exactly the image that inspired that famous theme (“from the trees of the South hangs a strange fruit / blood on the leaves, and blood on the root / black bodies swaying in the southern breeze”), written by a Jewish and communist professor , Abel Meeropol, after learning about the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Marion, Indiana, in August 1930. The film by Lee Daniels, director of Precious, it’s a long flashback in which a Billie Holiday who barely stands up recapitulates her life and the incessant harassment and harassment she suffered by the police, ending up several years in jail or expelled from many New York scenes for her determination to interpret a ballad with which he managed to break the closed circuit of the protest song and whose intensity and mimicry with his own pain when interpreting it made him, according to his memories, vomit backstage.
As it happened to Judy, portrayed by actress Renée Zellweger in one of her best work to date, Best of The United States vs. Billie Holiday It is its protagonist, the singer Andra Day, in charge of facing and supporting the entire film. Despite her little experience as an actress, Day gives herself so fiercely to the difficult task of reviving the myth and its labyrinths that with her dedication and charisma she manages to reach a dimension in which drugs, sex and her voice are the expression of the same dramatic flight forward. Candidate for the best actress Oscar after winning the Golden Globe, Day will again face another diva of the blues, the pioneer Ma Rainey who plays Viola Davis in the loose The mother of blues, in addition to more solid rivals, Vanessa Kirby for Fragments of a woman, Carey Mulligan por A promising young woman and the, in principle, favorite Frances McDormand for Nomadland.