I knew Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom would be the perfect addition for this blog for many reasons. The main one, though, was the fact that this marked Chadwick Boseman’s last acting role. His death was certainly untimely, but I am glad that we were given the chance to enjoy his talent one last time. The story itself was one I hadn’t heard of and I liked the fact that it was based on true events. In addition, anything having to do with music and being transported back to the 1920s is always a good idea and so I was excited to dive in.
The movie takes place over the course of an afternoon at a recording studio. A band of musicians is waiting for the legendary ‘Mother of the Blues’ Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) to arrive so that they can get started. Ma, the no nonsense spitfire, is not exactly the easiest of people to get along with – is constantly arguing with her manager and producer to have control over her own music.
Meanwhile, trumpeter Levee (Chadwick Boseman) is determined to do whatever he can to stake his claim in the industry even if that means ruffling a few feathers here and there.
I thought it was interesting to see two people at different stages in their careers come together. Ma is clearly very established already, but she still faces struggles every day. Levee, on the other hand, is just starting out and will stop at nothing to achieve his dreams. Despite their opposites, I do think they are quite similar at the end of the day because of their drive and passion.
I already mentioned Chadwick Boseman though I didn’t say just how phenomenal his performance really was. I actually haven’t seen him in many things outside of Black Panther, but this showed his top notch acting skills and it’s crazy to think that he put his cancer aside to give us all these roles. Similarly, Viola Davis was almost unrecognizable as Ma. That woman is such an enigma and she really is amazing in everything she does.
If you love music and want to lose yourself in a bit of history, I recommend checking out Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. You won’t be disappointed.