Viola Davis plays the “Mother of the Blues” in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” a jazzy, soulful and musical drama in which she and Chadwick Boseman together tackle race, art, religion and a white-dominated recording industry.
The first trailer for the film shows the lush period setting of 1920s Chicago, where Ma Rainey’s band gathers together to record a new album of her songs, only for them to tell stories, joke around, philosophize and argue about the world and the career they’ve chosen. Before long, though, tensions begin to boil between Ma Rainey, her white agent and her producer and the rest of her bandmates.
“This be an empty world without blues. I try and take that emptiness and fill it up with soul. But they want to call me ‘Mother of Blues,’ that’s alright with me, it don’t hurt none,” Davis says in the trailer.
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is based on Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s play and is directed by George C. Wolfe (“Lackawanna Blues,” “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”) from a script by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Netflix sees the film as another big Oscar contender in a year in which the streamer has a lot of them.
The film is the final movie for the late Chadwick Boseman, who died in late August at the age of 43 from cancer. “Ma Rainey’s” also stars Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, Taylour Paige and Michael Potts, and it’s produced by Denzel Washington alongside Todd Black and Dany Wolf. The film has a score from jazz legend Branford Marsalis.
Netflix will debut “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” on Dec. 18. Check out the first trailer for the film above.