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    The story of legendary blues performer Bessie Smith, who rose to fame during the 1920s and '30s.
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  • Actors of "Bessie"

  • Characters of "Bessie"

    Bessie Smith. Character of Bessie
    Played by: Queen Latifah
    Jack Gee. Character of Bessie
    Ma Rainey. Character of Bessie
    Played by: Mo'Nique
  • Directors of "Bessie"

    Dee Rees. Director of Bessie
    Dee Rees
  • Creators of "Bessie"

    Dee Rees. Director of Bessie
    Dee Rees
    Christopher Cleveland. Director of Bessie
    Christopher Cleveland
  • Critic Reviews of "Bessie"

    New York Times
    December 03, 2015

    Bessie shows us an assortment of moments from that life but doesn't really make us feel it, despite Queen Latifah's best efforts.

    Uncle Barky
    December 03, 2015

    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 03, 2015

    Well-made biopic absent a whole lot of music and -- as a result -- much emotional resonance.

    December 03, 2015

    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.

    San Francisco Chronicle
    December 03, 2015

    Bessie boasts powerful performances and a chance to hear the early blues popularized by Smith and her mentor, Ma Rainey.

    Washington Post
    December 03, 2015

    A thoughtful and at times stirring example of how a film can add texture to a legendary figure.

    Ozus' World Movie Reviews
    March 13, 2017

    Queen Latifah is convincing as Bessie.

    Common Sense Media
    August 15, 2016

    Gritty biopic has sex, violence, drinking, great music.

    Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
    June 02, 2015

    Presents the powerhouse vocalist as a blues belter in more ways than one -- a pugnacious scrapper with a fierce streak of racial pride, a sexual appetite that crossed gender lines and a hair-trigger temper that sometimes served her well...
    May 23, 2015

    ... give Bessie a try ... to see Queen Latifah's performance and learn a bit about Bessie Smith's life and times, and turn in off if and when it starts to drag.

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    May 14, 2015

    The story is so intent on covering the title character's life almost in its entirety that character motivations suffer.

    The Playlist
    May 12, 2015

    "Bessie" knows all the right words, but hasn't quite learned how to sing them just yet.

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