MovieGoer20’s review published on Letterboxd:
Of course the reason I wanted to see this was because it was Chadwick Boseman’s last movie. I remember reading Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in school but I don’t really remember it that much so I was curious to see what the movie adaptation would be like. The combination of Boseman and Viola Davis seemed like a match made for a movie too. I was also lucky enough to catch this in a theater too before it dropped on Netflix so I was ready to see if it was worth it.
I’ll just get it out of the way, Boseman is a powerhouse in this movie. He brings a huge amount of life into this dejected and hopeless character who is very cocky and knows what he deserves in life. Boseman had so much left to give as far as acting goes. He is fully aware of his own reality that he does not have enough time to give to the world even a fraction of all the passion that is inside of him, and it kind of hurt to watch knowing we’ll never see him in another movie with so much left to give. Viola Davis is also great as Ma Rainey herself and honestly had one of the funniest moments in the movie where everything just stopped because she wanted Coca Cola. That was gold to me for some reason for me and I was laughing hard at that. The costume design for this film is also really great so don’t be surprised to see this come back for costume design awards later on. This film’s strongest aspect though is the dialogue. This is extremely well written especially with Boseman and his interactions with the other band members. This movie is heavy on the dialogue which makes sense because it was based on a play but it requires a long attention span at times because of this. The backstory of Boseman’s character in particular was extremely powerful and so well delivered that it was unbelievable. The chemistry Boseman had with everyone here was great because they all worked so well off of each other. The script is just great and I can’t praise it enough. The performances from the other band members certainly help but this is Boseman’s movie easily and nearly every scene he’s in he knocks it out of the park. The song performances in this movie were also great when they were in the recording studio. The film overall has great music choices with a nice score that complements it very well. The characterization is so strong in this film and the ending hits hard when it comes and if you know you know because it can be very jarring for some people when it hits. I just wish this film could’ve been a little longer because of it but it leaves you on such a shocking note that you’re left dumbfounded at what you just saw but it’s that much more effective for that reason. There’s a lot to admire here and it definitely deserves praise.
Conclusion: This is definitely one of the films to check out for when award season comes around because Boseman has a nomination in the bag probably. He really does deliver in his final movie and the film is just great overall. Great characterization and a great ending really makes the film very interesting. You should catch this when it drops on Netflix because it’s worth your time. At least see it for Boseman because that’s all you need.