Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom ★★★★

When the film first starts, it’s obvious that it’s adapted from a play and I was worried it wouldn’t work.. But then Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman happen. Beyond real character studies you’re witnessing them bringing theatre into film and in 2020 that’s something we desperately needed.

Not only do they get you to care about Ma and Levee, they handle what plays normally have (scene carryover dialogue) with such ease. The editing and the directing helped too! George C. Wolfe definitely kept the “too-staged” look at bay.

When Chadwick starts his monologue about God and being saved, tears welled up. It felt that real, and ultimately tragic. He carried those words. 

Are the monologues a little to much exposition? Okay, yes, but the magic here is that we all got to experience the feel of a live-performance because of their acting. In 2020! It’s that solid. 

4 Stars, because it successfully transforms the play into a film; about the blues grown out of the black lives that sing them. The ending is poetically successful and a painful stamp to that message.

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