The US versus Billie Holiday is everywhere, trying to capture every narrative thread.
On paper, this description of the plot might seem simple, but that’s because it’s a massively tweaked version of the film. Amid the controversy over “Strange Fruit” and the law, there is a subplot involving young FBI agent Jimmy Fletcher (Trevante Rhodes), who Billie Holiday becomes her lover. But he’s not the only romantic interest noted, as the feature also includes her time with actress Tallulah Bankhead (Natasha Lyonne) and her string of abusive relationships with men like James Monroe (Erik LaRay Harvey), John Levy (Tone Bell) and Louis McKay (Rob Morgan). And there is a randomly included frame device that includes a radio interview with Reginald Lord Devine (Leslie Jordan). And there are also full performances of songs so audiences get a real sense of Holiday’s talent and even a hallucinatory journey that takes us back to their childhood. All of this unfolds with arbitrary time jumps to moments in Holiday’s life that the film considers significant. It is everywhere.