IndieWire’s review published on Letterboxd:
Review by Eric Kohn
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” opens with a thundering blues performance and ends with a gut punch. Both moments inject fresh energy and righteous fury into the 1982 August Wilson play that launched his 10-part Pittsburgh Cycle, but in between, the movie hews to more familiar turf. An actor’s showcase for Viola Davis as the show-stopping singer and the late Chadwick Boseman as the scheming trumpeter angling to steal her spotlight, director George C. Wolfe’s reverential adaptation livens up the material with sizzling color and vivid closeups. Save for a few digressions, however, Wolfe and screenwriter Ruben Santiago-Hudson have put the play into the movie, rather than vice versa.