Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom ★★★

“The more music you have in the world, the fuller it is.”

I’ll be totally honest and say before today I knew nothing about Ma Rainey besides her name; I thought this would be a full on biopic where I’d learn more about her, but instead it turned out to be a tiny glimpse into her career and some of the struggles she faced as a Black artist during a time when her talents were exploited for the benefit of those in power... not that much has changed since then, but still. I have mixed feelings about it as a film for a few reasons, but mainly because story feels like it barely scratches the surface of the potential it had; I feel like it could’ve developed a little more than it did, which left most of the weight on the cast, not that that’s a bad thing, but obviously not the best.
Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman delivered some of the best acting I’ve seen this year. Every time one of them came on screen they’d top each other as if they had some sort of competition going on, which was definitely the highlight of it all. The way they both showcased their characters pain in different ways was impressive to watch, and even more so, how their chemistry was almost palpable even as their characters were meant to be distant.
Considering all that (and the way it ends so abruptly) I think it’s fair to say this is far from perfect, but still definitely a must watch for this year.

2020 Ranked

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