In the latest Hulu drama, The United States Vs. Billie Holiday (2021), based on true events, the film takes a look into how the FBI went undercover to launch a sting drug operation against famous jazz singer Billie Holiday. Directed by Lee Daniels and screenplay by Suzan-Lori Parks, the film stars Andra Day as Billie Holiday, Trevante Rhodes as Jimmy Fletcher, LaKeith Stanfield, Garrett Hedlund and Tyler James Williams. YouTubers Christy, Alonso and Matt from the Breakfast All Day Podcast channel and Elliot from the channel Movie Files, share their thoughts on the film now streaming on Hulu.
When it comes to his direction and when it comes to the screenwriter that wrote this film Suzan-Lori Parks, this is of course based on a book … I have to say to me this film and this script lacked focus … when it comes to the supporting cast, when it comes to the characters, the band, the different people, the different relationships that Billie Holiday interacted within her life, I feel like this movie was just a highlight reel. I feel like it just glazed over and went by some important moments of her life.
A little bit disappointed in the film, YouTuber Elliot feels the film was “bouncing all over” the place in terms of events, and people in association with Billie Holiday’s story. The film feels like a compilation of randomness in terms of her relationships as well as the lack of details in the important events in her life during the time in which she reached fame for her song Strange Fruit.
The movie didn’t know if it was a film about the song Strange Fruit, it didn’t know what it was trying to say about the black community, it didn’t know what it was trying to say about the war on drugs. There was so much going on in this film, it was very messy. The editing was choppy, the pacing was so off to me … the film literally glazed over so much character development.
Although the performances from Andra Day and Trevante Rhodes are well executed and really bring life to their characters, the YouTuber ultimately feels the film is a huge missed opportunity to tell an important story and fails to do the historical icon any justice.
Somewhat familiar with the directing style of Lee Daniels, YouTuber Alonso is surprised to learn that the film is based on a true story because of the way it is presented, it made it seem like it was a huge exaggeration of an event.
The way Lee Daniels tells this movie I was kind of surprised when I did the research afterwards to find out this is actually a true story. Some of the filmmaking here is so bonkers that I thought well this can’t possibly be what actually went down but no, it is … if you’re used to Lee Daniels or you like Lee Daniels’ sort of purple style of filmmaking where he likes to go big and he likes to go broad and he likes to put a very fine point on everything that he can, then you’ll know what you’re in for here.
The YouTubers aren’t super impressed with the film but they do agree that it does bring more light to and possibly have the power to change people’s opinions on the story of Billie Holiday and how she was targeted by the government at a time of major civil unrest and racial tension.
If nothing else I think this movie at least kind of has the power to alter our public perception of Billie Holiday and her life and her tragedy. Because I think now the general idea is like oh great singer but you know that heroin really brought her down. And now it’s like oh great singer and the heroine brought her down and she was additionally fucked over by Hoover’s FBI.
YouTubers Elliot from the channel Movie Files, Christy, Alonso and Matt from the channel Breakfast All Day Podcast, rate and review new movies and TV shows on their channels regularly.