Biography of the African-American who became a major performer in the Paris cabarets of the 1920's and 1930's. The film follows her life beginning as a struggling performer in 1917 St. ... See full summary »
Biography of the African-American who became a major performer in the Paris cabarets of the 1920's and 1930's. The film follows her life beginning as a struggling performer in 1917 St. Louis, her frustrations leading to her move to France, and follows to her death in 1975. Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
This is certainly a well-intentioned movie, and the star, Lynn Whitfield, certainly gives a very moving performance. Much of the movie focuses on Baker's career after the War, where she becomes involved in the civil rights movement. It's very well-meaning, certainly, but not the part of her life and career that interests me, so I found that that part of the movie dragged. Her years in Paris as a performer in the 1920s and 30s get short shrift, and that's a shame, because it's what made a star of her.
The movie takes its particular stance on how Baker saw her early Paris performances. While it's an interesting interpretation - very sincere - I don't know how accurate it is. The one aspect of Baker's performances that doesn't get developed in this movie is her role as a comedian. In certain ways, she was something of a Black Fanny Brice. Something of that comes through her early newsreels, but it's missing from the way Ms. Whitfield was directed to portray Baker.
In the end, for me, this amounted to a very fine performance by Whitfield. But how accurate a depiction of Baker it provided, at least for her early years as a successful performer, I don't know.
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