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‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’: Powerful, Poignant, and Depressing

So, I finally just watched Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and to my relief, it was better than I expected. Based on a play written by playwright August Wilson, the film tells the story of blues legend, Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) and a tense recording session in Chicago of 1927 as she clashes with her trumpeter (Chadwick Boseman.)

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The film lives up to the hype, delivering some of the best acting of the year. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is dark, powerful, and oh does it shine a light on the trauma of African-Americans.

In a time when racial tension is such a topic this movie is like a slap to the face with authenticity. Even though it speaks of race in a 1920s’ light it speaks to the horrors of our present so boldly that you can’t help but sit back and just take a deep breath.

Viola Davis is once again superb as Ma Rainey, delivering every line and moment with purpose and conviction. And Chadwick Boseman, gosh Boseman was gone too soon. This unapologetic depiction of an angry young black man traumatized by horrific events of his past may just be his best performance and is definitely deserving of every award he can muster. He’s already gotten a posthumous Golden Globe nomination for the role today and deservedly so. I honestly feel like he should win but I’m going to check out Sound of Metal next to see how Riz Ahmed does.

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