Sam Meltzer’s review published on Letterboxd:
A powerful, engaging and greatly bold spectacle for a musical biopic. What separates this from other musical biopics is the way in which the story is told. It doesn’t get sappy and talk about the ups and downs and the entire life of these people. It definitely explores the issues and the great elements of being a singer, but this is really a character showcase. It never wastes its time and shows a beautiful and important time in their lives. The cinematography was simple yet effective. I was in love with the costumes, makeup and entire production value.
This HAS to be Chadwick’s career-best performance. While his career was sadly way too short, this really shows his true talent as an actor. His performance here is tough, free and liberated. He gives a lot of passion to the role and amazingly disappeared into this character. The big monologue, if you know what I’m talking about, is perhaps some of the best acting I’ve seen in a recent movie. I was also fully impressed with Viola Davis as Ma Rainey. WOW she nailed it. She is confident, bold, fierce, powerful and always gets her way. She succeeds through her musical numbers and her monologues. The role gives her a lot to do, and being Viola Davis she does it really, really well. Every time she’s on screen she is what you’re looking at, both a scene-stealer and a powerful force.
Please check this one out on Netflix, I really don’t think that it’s another 2020 disappointment. I’m floored.