2 October 2020.
Billie Holiday was a legend in jazz with a unique, plaintive style of singing the blues whose life was both turbulent and tragically short.
One could compare her existence to that of the great Edith Piaf of France, another troubled singing legend. Though one was black and the other white, both came up from the lowest professions and meanest streets through their extraordinary talent and charisma, Each lived and loved fully, burned their candles at both ends and were snuffed out far too early.
This in depth documentary by James Erskine shows Holiday’s rise to fame from the 1930s to the late 1950s, based on hours of interviews collected by journalist Linda Kuehl with Holiday and her colleagues and close friends such as Count Basie, Tony Bennett and Sarah Vaughan. There are her many lovers, her innumerable concerts, her controversial and brave rendition of that profound song, “Strange Fruit”, and consequently her troubles with the FBI and prison time over her drug addictions.
She had a life and gift that was exceptional, and this film is a tribute to the price she paid for it.
(Showing at the Cinelux)
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.