Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom ★★★★

Mini Review

George C. Wolfe's adaptation of the play feels very theatrical in the way that scenes are presented and music is used. At first, it feels a little distracting and weird, but Wolfe commits to the style and as the film goes on you get used to it. The performances take centre stage in this movie, particularly the late Chadwick Boseman who shines in every scene he's in, delivering both humour and heartfelt monologues.

Viola Davis has also transformed into the character that she is playing, in a more literal sense, being barely recognisable as the mother of blues herself. The script is brilliantly written and paced, especially in the third act - I literally couldn't take my eyes off of the screen and the long stretches of dialogue are interesting enough not to lose your attention. Finally, the musical score, and musical numbers, are both used quite sparingly to capture the atmosphere or add a bit of life just when the film needs it.