Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom| Stream It or Skip It?

  • AUTHOR: midhat
  • POSTED ON: December 21, 2020

Netflix original Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is bound to throw you in a blue funk, as it’s Chadwick Boseman’s last movie! He died when the movie was in the post-production stage, and his extraordinary performance may be the finest till date, and worthy of an

Oscar nomination or certainly a posthumous Oscar.

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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom movie is an explosion of pure acting firepower from both Voila Davis and Chadwick Boseman, who co-pronounced the adaption of August Wilson’s 1984 stage play, based on the life of legendary ‘Mother of the Blues,’ Ma Rainey. The movie is definitely a career breakthrough for Davis and a perfect swan song for Boseman, who was at the height of his career, and left this world far too soon.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom- Stream it or Skip It?

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Produced by Denzel Washington and directed by George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is a portrayal of pain and passion, sets in the 1920s, but still loudly resonates in the 2020’s. It connotes the racial injustice within the institution that exploits Ma and brutally damages an ambitious trumpeter, Levee (played by Boseman). 

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On one hot day in a White-owned Chicago studio, we see Black musicians waiting for the arrival of legendary blues singer “Ma” Rainey along with her band so they can record an album. ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is a lead track that is expected to be her significant hit, but a passionate trumpeter is hell-bent to record his own version. The rising tension around this song creates the foundation of a rebelliousness against power, sex (here's the leaked sex scenes of Cyberpunk 2077 on PornHub), and race.

Worth-watching Performance: Voila Davis’s Ma is tough, wise, and pessimistic. Her sense of diva prerogative gets her what she wants but it certainly doesn’t come without sacrifices.

Chadwick Boseman gives an inspirational performance as the determined yet insecure trumpeter Levee who—tormented by a childhood experience of racial discrimination and violence—still dreams to stake his own claim to the music industry. This is Boseman’s final performance on the screen, and what a magnificent way to drop down the curtain one final time.

Levee produces a creative new version of Black Bottom, quite without Ma's permission. His version of the track downplays Ma’s soft, sad, and bluesy vocals and sounds a more promising composition from the male members in the band: Slow Drag (Micheal Potts), Toledo (Glynn Turman), Cutler (Colman Domingo) and Levee with his shiny trumpet. Levee’s passion to begin his own band has him persuading White managers and studio producers, forcing him to re-experience his childhood traumas.

Ma, obviously, disapproves Levee’s version of Black Bottom, believing that he’s using her charisma and prestige as a launching rack to start his own career. The conflict between Levee and Ma is because of Ma’s teenage nephew Sylvester (Dusan Brown) who she desperately wants to introduce with the upcoming track, regardless of the fact that he stutters. To fuel the fire, she introduces her stunning girlfriend Dussie Mae (Taylour Paige), whom Levee is dangerously attracted to.

While the power here mainly lies with Ma Rainey, as she is the lead talent and the whole band is dependent on her, the band members are slightly disappointed with Ma’s inability to connect with White audiences.

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On the other hand, Levee is equipped with innovative ideas about music, but he needs support from the White-dominant management. Tragedy and violence are sparked because of Levee’ boot-licking attitude towards the managers and producers. This whole confrontation triggers Levee’s previous memories of racist humiliation and violence, where he was forced to watch the rape of his mother by a White men. He also recounts his near-death experience when he tried to stop his mother’s rape.

Noteworthy dialogue: “I can smile and say, ‘Yes, sir’ to whoever I please. I got my time coming to me. Y’all just leave Levee alone about the White man.” – Levee (played by Boseman)

Fans verdict:

Our verdict: STREAM it! The moving aspects of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom make it a worthy watch for sure! It offers an inspirational, intense and intimate experience of art and its influence over the society, especially against the backdrop of racism. Boseman’s incredible performance and exceptional story-telling will definitely make you cry!

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom started streaming on Netflix on 18th December. Check out the trailer here:

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Stay tuned to Hayvine for more information about Ma Rainey's Black Bottom PDF and other reviews while you enjoy the amazing and a lot different holiday season this year!

Updated December 21, 2020
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