Boseman bent over posthumous glory with swan song “Ma Rainey”

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Los Angeles (AFP)

Four months after his death shocked the world, pioneering American actor Chadwick Boseman makes his last heartbreaking and hot Oscar appearance in the 1920s blues drama “My Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

The “Black Panther” star portrays a fiery and irreverent horn player struggling to be heard in a Chicago music world riddled with racism and exploitation, in the adaptation of August Wilson’s song airing Friday on Netflix.

Boseman’s role as the play’s tragic hero takes on added intensity with his death at age 43 in August from colon cancer – a diagnosis he has never publicly discussed, or even shared with his co-workers. stars during production.

Viola Davis, who plays real “Mother of the Blues” Ma Rainey, described her co-star as “one of the greatest – if not the greatest – role of an African American actor in history. », Distilling the historical trauma of the black experience.

“I look back at how tired he always seemed,” Davis told The New York Times of the movie shot last year.

“Now we know the role reflects the life of Chadwick… it reflects the lives of all grieving black people, and in particular the life of a black man,” she added.

Boseman had secretly battled through his cancer diagnosis to become the first black star with his own superhero epic in Marvel’s record-breaking franchise.

‘Black Panther’ of 2018 was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and grossed over $ 1 billion worldwide. Last week, Disney paid tribute to Boseman by announcing that his iconic role as T’Challa will not be recast in the sequel.

– ‘Share your genius’ –

In his latest film, Boseman’s cornet player Levee was hired to support Ma Rainey, who traveled from the Deep South to record her hit songs on a sweltering summer afternoon in a cramped studio.

As diva-esque Ma Rainey battles duplicitous producers who want to take advantage of her voice and send it packing, Levee makes her own path to solo musical glory while revealing a childhood ravaged by white brutality.

In a performance of bravery, Boseman delivers dazzling monologues that swear to ‘make the white man respect me’ and curse a God who ‘hates your black ass’ – interspersed with moments of mischievous charisma, dance moves and scandalous flirtation.

“My Rainey” is the second of 10 pieces from Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Pittsburgh Cycle” to be adapted by producer Denzel Washington, each recounting the African-American experience in a different decade of the 20th century.

In a twist of fate, Washington funded the studies of a group of young black American actors participating in a prestigious British summer drama program – including a then-unknown Boseman.

“I’m glad I got to be a part of sharing his genius with the world,” Washington said in the film’s production notes.

“I miss him and love him. In the movies, we will always have it and I will never forget it. ”

– ‘Every ounce’ –

For Boseman, this course at Oxford was a major opportunity to study Shakespeare, Beckett and Pinter – but also fostered the desire to propel the works of black playwrights into the same canon.

“I always felt black writers were just as classic,” he once told Rolling Stone. “It’s just as difficult to do August Wilson, and the stories he tells are just as epic. ”

Academy voters may have started to take notice, awarding Davis an Oscar for Wilson’s previous Washington adaptation, “Fences” (2016).

As “My Rainey” – who in real life was backed by a young Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith – Davis dons gold teeth and a big suit as she sashays her hips, hums country blues and pours prima. overlooked those around him. She also receives a tip for a new Oscar offering.

But Davis and director George C. Wolfe have little doubt about Boseman’s credentials for becoming the third posthumously acting Oscar winner, after Heath Ledger (“The Dark Knight” in 2008) and Peter Finch (” Network ”in 1976).

“Chadwick is my baby… (he) was just an artist,” Davis recently told reporters.

“Chadwick put his whole being into Levee… Levee demands it because of the Herculean scale of the role,” Wolfe said.

“He put every ounce of his heart and passion into it. ”

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