Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: George C. Wolfe – CastViola DavisChadwick BosemanColman Domingo

Watching this film I couldn’t help thinking back at the 2016 multi-Oscar nominated “Fences”. That too was produced by Denzel Washington and adapted from a play by August Wilson. Viola Davis also starred in that film, in fact she even won an Oscar for it, giving one of the most powerful performances of the last few years. It comes to no surprise to see her in “Ma Rainey” confirming once again her status as one of the best actress of our time (she even sings one of the songs in the film, “These Dogs of Mine”).

However I have to say, just as in “Fences” I found the film’s direction and presentation in general (this time, not by Denzel, but by George C. Wolfe), incredibly stagy and a bit stiff, somehow unable to detached itself from those theatrical roots.

The result is a film full of dialogue-heavy scenes and not a lot of attention to the visual side of things (though I the costumes are great!)Because of all that; I’ve had the same reaction to this that I had during Fences: I could never quite engage with it, as most people seemed to have (this one has 98% on Rotten tomatoes!).

I found it all slightly forced and a bit in your face (though I do recognise that it MY problem with August Wilson more than anything else).It’s not really a movie, but a piece for theatre: even the sets look like they could be on a stageSo all I was left to do was to watch, slightly distant, the powerful performances by the impressive cast and think about what a great loss cinema’s has suffered with the premature death of Chadwick Boseman. Here once again, after Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” a few months ago, he has shown us he had so much more in him than what we saw in “Black Panther”.

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