Terry Hunter reviews MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM

The new Netflix movie, MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, stars Viola Davis as the legendary blues singer and Chadwick Boseman as a talented trumpet player in her band. Both actors are likely to earn Oscar nominations for their performances in this film which is based on a hit play by Pulitzer Prize winner, August Wilson. Wearing a fat suit and lots of makeup, Viola Davis is pitch perfect as Ma Rainey, but it’s the energetic performance by Chadwick Boseman that really enlivens the movie. (It’s tragic that this fine actor died four months after shooting was completed.) Most of the movie is set in a hot Chicago sound studio in the summer of 1927 when Ma Rainey and her band recorded several musical numbers. I admired MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM more than I enjoyed it. At times, it felt claustrophobic, more like a stage play than a movie. But this film has a lot to say about the ongoing exploitation of black people. Plus, the performances of Davis and Boseman really are special.

Terry Hunter reviews MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM