Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is a movie on Netflix. It is Chadwick Boseman’s final movie ever. That is literally all I knew about the film when it came out. Truthfully, what else do you need to know? I round up my people and ask them if they want to do a Netflix party (now Teleparty) and watch it together. We watched the movie typing away in the chat box. The movie ended and I was left wondering just what exactly I was feeling.
So to fill in a couple of blanks without giving the story away Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is an adaptation of August Wilson’s 1982 play. Ma Rainey is a big blues/jazz singer who the studio has paid to come down and record a record. It is set in the 1920’s and racism is everywhere.
I don’t want to give the movie away. My descriptions wouldn’t give it justice anyway.
What I do want to convey is that this movie is powerful. Boseman has multiple soliloquies and monologues that are stunning. They are stunning not only because he is an amazing actor, they are stunning because he knows he is dying in real life and his dialogue is so darn powerful. It is hard not to watch and try to put yourself in his shoes.
My final thoughts are that I have been thoroughly Disneyized when it comes to movies. The protagonist wins. They guy gets the girl (yes I understand the issues with this). So yea maybe something may happen in scene one but the ending is always one of hope and happiness. This movie punches the Disney model in the throat. You feel the tension building and when it finally boils over you are left sitting there just staring at the screen saying wow.
The final scene makes a powerful statement. It shows the juxtaposition of the two worlds that don’t quite coexist. The imagery is unmistakeable.
The older I get the more I look forward to things that make me think and feel. Ma Rainey does that. Do yourself a favor and watch it. It won’t lift you up but it sure won’t let you down.