Adapted from August Wilson’s play, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom examines a tense afternoon recording session for the fiery and fearless “Mother of Blues” (Viola Davis) and a band of musicians, including a very ambitious trumpeter (Chadwick Boseman) who is determined to make his own name in the music industry.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom beautifully translates onto the screen with electricity, power, and black excellence. It is a whirlwind of emotion and music. Although the film showcases a battle of egos, its ability to capture the traumatic racial tension and violence that plagued this period in history is urgent and profound.
And although we can thank August Wilson for a poetic collection of monologues and words, they mean nothing if they aren’t delivered without purpose and emotion.
That’s where the ensemble comes in. All around the performances are fantastic, however, the powerhouse performances by Davis and Boseman are MASTERFUL and what make Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom a must-see.
Academy award winner, Viola Davis commands the screen in her best performance to date. Her ability to seamlessly transform into the “mother of blues” with power and conviction is beyond mind blowing. She is a true treasure and one of the greatest actors of our time. I believe it’s safe to say that Davis is a shoe-in for a “Best Actress” nomination this year.
But what I’m here to talk about is the tour de force, Chadwick Boseman. This is his movie.
His final performance as Levee is nothing short of extraordinary. His sheer charisma, force, and ability to convey the rawest of emotion while delivering some of the most powerful monologues I have seen this year is special. Boseman’s talent is unprecedented.
It is heartbreaking to know that this is the last time we will ever see him on screen. We are so lucky we were blessed with this perfect performance — a true testament to his legacy. And I swear, if he doesn’t receive accolades for this role, I will be devastated.
Final Thoughts: An entertaining and emotional production anchored by two of the strongest performances I have seen this year.
Rest in power, Chadwick Boseman.