Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom ★★★


Another biopic of the bunch, another racial speech sustained by the excellent performances and a treatment according to its theatrical nature. This is notorious due to the variations of the same recording studio where the story takes place, allowing to establish an excellent tone and pacing, as well as classism and racism (and to some extent the concept of hypocrisy) within the industry, showing the difficult social, work and personal relationships of the African American race. The dialogues can feel repetitive because they sometimes overexploit the speech of racial and historical oppression and the character structure, being out of place with the pacing and agile development proposed by the director and causing the film to feel flat.

Chadwick Boseman takes the entire show not only through mediation due to his tragic death, but because it shows his maturation as an actor (in an alternate universe it would've made him one of Hollywood's African-American promises and allowed him to stop playing the superhero), by ending his life as an innovative trumpet player who wants to survive despite the oppression of the white man, his past and Ma Rainey herself. This impresses to the degree of surpassing Viola Davis herself, who creates a figure as hateful as it is complex, "justified" by her position and ideology and always on the defensive because of her race, but she makes the same expressions and facial movements. A reflection of African-American society and an excellent and dignified farewell for Boseman, but by its very nature can’t give for more.

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