Brett Schutt @ Disney College Program’s review published on Letterboxd:
I’m gonna write a longer review for this later this week but right now I’m busy with a whole lot of stuff but I gotta get out my thoughts on this real quick. It’s surprisingly great.
I really wasn’t expecting this to hit me. Play adaptions on film are usually ones I appreciate more then get engrossed in. I actually didn’t like Fences because I felt like it was so staged and performative that putting it on screen instead of stage there was a disconnect.
Ma Rainey is solidly cinematic. The cinematography is gorgeous and immersive. The dialogue in the film is so sharp and it’s got a few moments where I got chills down my back. This is all because of Chadwick Boseman who makes this film what it is. His performance is the best I’ve seen since Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea and he portrays a better idea of a mental psyche breakdown then Joaquin Phoenix does in The Joker (and I actually like that movie). It’s such an Earth shattering performance and I’m so sad he’s gone because this is a star making performance if I’ve ever seen one.
Overall- really solid film and I’m hoping The Academy recognizes it for quite a few categories. It’s harrowing, powerful and evocative cinema. A total surprise.