Chadwick Boseman last August died of cancer at the unspeakably young age of 43 after a series of captivating performances in such movies as Black Panther, 42, Express: The Ernie Davis Story, Get On Up, and Marshall. And this Friday, Netflix will debut his last film, a Netflix original called Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Boseman plays an ambitious trumpet player in 1920s Chicago who clashes with a legendary diva singer (Viola Davis.) The movie, which was based on an August Wilson play, also explores the exploitation of African-American musicians by white managers during that time period.
Rottentomatoes.com, which tracks critical reviews, gives Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom a score of 99 out of a possible 100, based on 92 reviews.
“Framed by a pair of powerhouse performances, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom pays affectionate tribute to a blues legend — and Black culture at large,” the site states, summarizing the reviews.
Joshua Alexrod of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says the movie “is about as seamless a transition from play to screen as any diehard Wilson fan or casual movie lover could hope for. It may drag a little at times, as many plays do, but it’s an actors’ showcase that ably communicates Wilson’s vision.”
Philip Martin of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette writes that Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is a fitting coda for Boseman’s splendid, but too-short career.
“Boseman is remarkable, and (Colman) Domingo, (Glynn) Turman and (Michael) Potts track and weigh his every word. There’s no sense that they’re waiting to deliver their next line, their alarm, their bemusement and their pity seem real. As real as our own,” Martin writes.
Boseman has never been nominated for an Academy Award despite his critically-acclaimed work. But something tells me that will change early next year.
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The film is regarded as Boseman’s last movie performance because he died in August during post-production.
Featured Image: Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.