NOTE: There just might be spoilers within the thread that follows in the comment section below, so if you haven’t seen it yet, you may want to skip this post entirely until you have!
I was out last night, so I didn’t get to watch the premiere of HBO’s Bessie Smith bio, “Bessie,” which stars Queen Latifah as the title character, and is directed by Dee Rees.
I do have it recorded, however, so I’ll definitely be screening it myself later today; but given that I’m sure many of you did watch last night’s broadcast, I thought I’d open up a forum for any early post-screening chatter around the film, which I’m sure will carry on through the week, as more of us see it, and share our thoughts.
Reviews from critics have been generally favorable, with a 73 rating via Metacritic, based on 16 critics thus far.
– “Bessie is a thoughtful and at times stirring example of how a film can add texture to a legendary figure.” – Washington Post
– “This trio of formidable women [Queen Latifah, Mo’Nique, and Khandi Alexander]–playing Smith, mentor Ma Rainey, and Smith’s hissable sister Viola, respectively–bring all of their firepower, often elevating the film from workmanlike to extraordinary with their collective ferocity.” – Boston Globe.
And the not-so good:
– “Bessie shows us an assortment of moments from that life but doesn’t really make us feel it, despite Queen Latifah’s best efforts. Blame a choppy presentation that checks off points in the Bessie Smith timeline but doesn’t probe them or knit them together.” The New York Times
– “The musical numbers are terrific, and the film has its strong moments…. But these individual, scattered scenes don’t add up to a cohesive story, which marks Bessie as a disappointing missed opportunity.” The Pittsburgh Post
You can read them all here if you’d like.
Otherwise, the mic is now yours…