2015, Biography/Drama, 2h29 Reviews 250+ Ratings
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Strong performances, led by Queen Latifah, overpower a middling script in the entertaining and informative Bessie. Read critic reviews
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Cast & Crew
Carl Van Vechten
William "Pa" Rainey
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Critic Reviews for Bessie
Bessie shows us an assortment of moments from that life but doesn't really make us feel it, despite Queen Latifah's best efforts.
It fleshes out Bessie Smith to a degree but certainly not in full measure. Latifah and Rainey can sure sing out, though. It's a pleasure to watch and hear them wail in a film that otherwise doesn't quite cut it.December 3, 2015 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
Well-made biopic absent a whole lot of music and -- as a result -- much emotional resonance.December 3, 2015 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
Bessie isn't a perfect movie. But for HBO's purposes, it's a big-time noisemaker - one with the kind of show-stopping work that, when they start handing out trophies, isn't likely to leave its star singin' the blues.
Bessie boasts powerful performances and a chance to hear the early blues popularized by Smith and her mentor, Ma Rainey.
A thoughtful and at times stirring example of how a film can add texture to a legendary figure.
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