“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is the must-see movie of the year.
Yep. That is all.
The film, produced by Denzel Washington and directed by George C. Wolfe, is based on the award-winning play by August Wilson and if you are unfamiliar with Mr. Wilson’s brilliance – you gone learn today.
Well, you’ll learn when you watch the film.
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is set in 1920’s Chicago and takes place over the course of one day – the hottest day of the year – at a recording studio where Ma is scheduled to record an album of her songs.
Ma’s band players Cutler, Toledo, Slow Drag and Levee gather in a dressing room as they await her arrival.
This is where an absolutely captivating story and chain of events unfold.
The incomparable Viola Davis stars in the film as Ma Rainey and she gave an absolutely superb performance.
Viola literally transformed into Ma Rainey – not just esthetically – but, she captured the essence of Ma’s strength, beauty, frustration, intelligence, talent, and vulnerability in the face of losing her relevancy.
Two minutes into the film, I forgot I was watching Viola.
Chadwick Boseman…what can I say to capture the depth of his brilliant performance as Levee?
Knowing this was his final performance made me watch him with different eyes.
Chadwick poured his heart and soul into this role.
There was a different kind of power and fervor in his portrayal of Levee, who was a very complex character.
You loathed him one minute and cried for him moments later.
Both Chadwick and Viola delivered Oscar-worthy performances in this film and I stand on that 10 toes down.
Rounding out the amazing cast is Michael Potts as Slow Drag, Glynn Turman as Toledo, Dusan Brown as Sylvester, Colman Domingo as Cutler, and Taylour Paige as Dussie Mae.
Everything about this film – the cast, the acting, the music, the dialogue, the lessons, and the blackness of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” makes it an instant classic.
I laughed, I cried, I danced, and I’m willing to proudly admit I was talking to the screen a time or two.
My ONLY complaint about the film was I wanted more. I didn’t want it to end.
Watch the trailer below:
The film is open in select theaters on November 25 and it premieres on Netflix on December 18.