Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom ★★★

1920s Chicago. The heyday of the blues, a genre of music that would have the world feeling empty without its presence. The Great Migration has brought many African Americans to the North as a way to add potential economic advancement and to escape the hellhole of the post Civil War American South. Ma Rainey, the most famous blues singer at the time, is in the middle of a tense standoff with her band’s ambitious trumpet player named Levee. A clash of musical styles and egos come to a head sparking a deeper look into the state of the black condition in early 21st century America. 

Boseman is immaculate in a final performance that felt surreal to watch take place. Just months after his tragic sudden passing, seeing this black king displaying  that trademark charisma, presence, and superstar acting chops was a sad reminder of what could have been if he was still here in the physical sense. Takes a lot of strength to be going through the terrible affliction of cancer and put together a display of world class acting with no effort. Rest in Power, Chadwick; thank you for everything you brought to the world due to your talent and skill for bringing happiness, drama, and memorable moments to the silver screen. 

Viola Davis could never be confused with the word “bad” or “mediocre” in any of the characters she chooses to channel; a beautiful, bold, and full of brash performance that lifts the film over the edge combined with Chadwick’s greatness. Getting to the state of the film overall, the acting performances and the soundtrack featuring the beautiful musical expression known as jazz is what makes the film worth checking out  but nothing memorable strikes a mark outside of that department. Basic direction combined with the obvious feel of a stage play are not enough of a fresh factor to take your attention set from the cast. A little above average for the usual Netflix feature and a memoriam to a wonderful human being.

2020 RANKED 

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