bessieDee Rees’ (Pariah) lavish biopic Bessie starring Queen Latifah in the title role releases on DVD and streaming this week. Rees co-wrote and directed the story of Bessie Smith. Smith got her start singing with Ma Rainey (playfully portrayed by Mo’Nique). Both women had a taste for women but Bessie also had an interest in men which makes Bessie a rare bird portraying a bisexual woman of color in the 1920’s and 30’s. Pretty daring stuff for back then. According to the story, Bessie didn’t seem to fall in love with anyone. She enjoyed her women, she had an occasional taste for men which turned into relationships two times in her life. Besides Mo’Nique, Michael Kenneth Williams and Khandi Alexander co-star as Smith’s husband and sister. Great roles for many of the actors. The music is top-notch. As many of you know I’m not a huge fan of the biopic. They tend to try to bite off way too much of someone’s life and the pacing tends to be the same no matter who’s at the helm. Rees certainly proves she’s not a one-hit wonder with Bessie. I liked it if I didn’t quite love it. It certainly is worth an evening’s viewing for entertainment and education. 3 out of 5 for Bessie.


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