Anxiety continued to rule much of my day today. It’s been pretty constant the past two days, and everything has felt like a bit of a chore, but tonight at least, I made sure to watch a feature film. I once again decided to stick with the Oscar nominations to save me the indecision.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021, Dir. Lee Daniels)
I realize I’ve been a bit of a broken record about the genre, but filmmakers really need to stop following the same, tired biopic formula. The United States vs. Billie Holiday is another victim of tired style. While the film makes some attempt at being more thematically concise by focusing on Holiday’s tumultuous relationship with the Federal Department of Narcotics. Even with a specific part of Holiday’s life in mind, the film felt bloated with other details of the singer’s life muddying the message.
Thankfully, despite the film’s other shortcomings, the one category it was nominated in, Lead Actress for Andra Day as Holiday, was genuinely great. The role’s range from Holidays electric stage performance and heroin fueled stupor gives Day a lot to work with, and she doesn’t back down from the challenge. Her encapsulation of the enigmatic singer is a highlight in an otherwise lacking film.