The story of legendary blues performer Bessie Smith, who rose to fame during the 1920s and '30s.The story of legendary blues performer Bessie Smith, who rose to fame during the 1920s and '30s.The story of legendary blues performer Bessie Smith, who rose to fame during the 1920s and '30s.
He succeeded, in large part by his decision to make the story as much about the music as the personal travails of the famous singer.
At the time it seemed the obvious choice. Yet, flash forward 43 years and today the team behind this project, faced with the exact same choice, took the road less travelled.
It is not as if Queen L. does not have a set of pipes. After years of appearing in a string of "commodity" lifetime/lifestyle/X-mas movies -- in parts which leveraged off her infectious natural sweetness -- she stunned audiences worldwide with her performance of I KNOW WHERE I've BEEN in 2007.
(For the record, how perfect was she in that performance?? This reviewer has that song in every mix he owns and never gets tired of it. Her performance was so flawless that she could have won IDOL on that single track alone.)
This is a hard film to review. A lot of talent behind the camera, a lot of talent in front of the camera, and all of it hamstrung by the executive decision to downplay the music and focus on the strife.
Larger than life people have larger than life problems. But we already knew that. Personally, I missed the tunes.
- May 20, 2015