Billie Holiday has always been a monster of a role. Diana Ross tackled her on film and Audra McDonald did it on stage. Now it's time for Andra Day — a singer and actress perfectly named to play Lady Day — and she shines. It's a pity the film she's in is so messy.
In the frustrating “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” Day gives it her all as Holiday but she can't save a film that is overstuffed and also thin. Director Lee Daniels and screenwriter Suzan-Lori Parks offer an unfocused, meandering work for much of the time, interrupted by devastating scenes that feel like a punch to the gut.