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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: A Review

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

A Heart of Hollywood Movie Recommendation

Illustration: Netflix Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

For those who don’t know what to binge-watch this weekend, we, at Heart of Hollywood Magazine, have a movie recommendation that you will not regret watching. We are talking about one of the newest Netflix releases that have many people talking and for good reason. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is one of the best critiqued Netflix original productions that has managed to portray Gertrude Pridgett Rainey’s life, better known as Ma Rainey or “The Mother of Blues,” an African-American Blues singer from the 1920s. She started her career when she was a teenager in her hometown Georgia, but it wasn’t until she turned 37 years old when she recorded her first tracks.

The legendary story of the singer arrived on all Netflix screens at the beginning of this year. Inspired by the 1982 theater play, the movie is directed by George C. Wolfe. It has big names attached as its main characters, like the great Viola Davis playing Ma and Chadwick Boseman playing his last role as a trumpeter named Levee. The movie begins in 1927 when Ma Rainey starts recording her newest album and tensions become undeniable between the singer, her producer, and the manager who want to have complete control of her music. In the middle of this conflict, she also faces problems with her band, mainly the trumpeter, an aspiring man who wants to give her music a new twist and create his own music to become a household name in the industry. While these situations take place, we get a better look at the persona that was Ma Rainey and how the music industry was for black artists, as some of the characters give monologues explaining how it really was to be a black person in those years.

Rainey left an important legacy in the music industry and a significant influence on today’s musicians. Through her music, she managed to represent the black community in the United States and through this movie, we see the portrayal of the community’s different values and the feminist messages of one of the most influential African-American Queer Blues singers of all time.

The movie has received nothing but good reviews for its depiction of the struggles lived by black artists back in the day. At the same time, it forces us to analyze the importance and influence of black artists on music today. It is a movie that needs to be on your watch list mainly because of the strong messages it delivers and the impeccable acting by both Davis and Boseman, who are expected to get an Oscar nomination for their performances. The movie will make you laugh, cry, and empathize with each of the characters represented brilliantly in this film.

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