Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom ★★★★

Film reviews in 22 sentences (or less)
Today: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

"You don't know nothing about what kind of blood I got! What kind of heart I got beating here!"
(Chadwick Boseman as Levee)

So, now it's really time to say goodbye...

Chadwick Boseman delivers with his (sadly) final role after his tragic and for most of us sudden death only a few months ago, a powerhouse performance. He's on top of his game and his swan-song includes some of the finest acting of the year. This complex written character Boseman brings charismatic as ever to life, by adding nuanced layers of emotional depth to his portrayal, is certainly heartbreaking to see on two different levels. Chadwick B. plays a hopeful man who nevertheless knows that most odds are against him, but also realizes what he wants to achieve with his passion. In Boseman's case to reach out to the audience through the screen, to let us feel something by watching his face going from one state of emotion to the next. And all that while getting obviously thinner in losing slowly the fight for life. It's simply a different kind of experience, a touching and meaningful one, when we now know that he was fully aware of what is going to happen and is still able to give us another great memory to remember him as a brilliant actor. The dialogues and especially two monologues of Boseman (that will stick a time) are spot on, dealing with the systemic discrimination and racial tensions as "Ma Rainey's" is very dialogue heavy and transports its messages more through words than actions, also because it largely takes place in only a handful locations (an intimate play comparable to "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" playing in just one house with a few shots of outside). That doesn't affect the cinematography and aesthetic style of the film, offering beautiful production design, costumes and camera work. After "Fences" Denzel Washington serves another time as the producer of a socially critical drama around racism and its consequences, delivering another time a tour de force of emotions. Viola Davis also delivers a strong range of depthness, wit and charm.

"What I care about bad luck? You talking simple. I ain't had nothing but bad luck all my life. Couldn't get no worse. What the hell I care about some bad luck? Hell, I eat it every day for breakfast."
(Chadwick Boseman as Levee)

The film is not only Chadwick Boseman, but he carries it. It's at the end mostly his incredible performance that win the day.

🔙 Klaus

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