R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Bill Condon
with Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Keith Robinson, Sharon Leal, Hinton Battle, John Lithgow, Yvette Cason, Loretta Devine
release US 15.Dec.06, UK 2.Feb.07
06/US DreamWorks 2h10

And I am telling you: Foxx, Knowles, Rose and Hudson

knowles murphy glover

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Dreamgirls Based on the 1980s stage musical, this thinly veiled Supremes/Motown biopic is a staggeringly entertaining movie. Besides the high-energy music, the story grapples meaningfully with intense human drama, racial issues and the theme of art versus commerce.

Music whiz Curtis Taylor (Foxx) spots the Dreamettes--belting Effie (Hudson), gorgeous Deena (Knowles) and sexy-sweet Lorrell (Rose)--at a Detroit talent competition, quickly lining them up to back up established star James Thunder Early (Murphy). "I don't do oohs and aahs," huffs Effie, who's eventually wooed by Curtis' charms. Later, Curtis realises that the renamed Dreams have the ability to cross over out of the black charts to America at large, but only with Deena on lead vocal. Over the next decade, fame takes its toll on all of them.

The story kicks off with a bang, getting us in the mood with dynamic musical performances. Snappy and vibrant, the film's almost too much fun--superbly designed, lit, shot and edited. And writer-director Condon quickly starts deepening the characters as well. These are complex, distinct people, lively and troubled, funny and prickly, channelling their souls into their songs both on stage and off. We get a strong sense of how much they risk for fame and fortune. And how much it costs them all.

The cast is simply astonishing. Foxx, Glover (as a sidelined manager) and Robinson (as Effie's songwriting brother) give the film a solid anchor, while Murphy shines in the role of his career--he's perfectly cast in this all-singing, all-dancing, all-womanising gift of a character. Knowles, Rose and Leal (as the replacement Dreamgirl) all have incredibly strong scenes of their own. Knowles' physicality is astonishing, as is her big number late in the story.

But the real star is Hudson, with a full-bodied performance that rocks the film to the core. She has at least three show-stopping numbers that rank among the most devastating movie musical scenes, ever. And her character's journey is provocative and complicated. But then, everyone in this film is recognisably human, flawed and even sometimes unlikeable. We feel the potent emotions that hold them together or push them apart in a culture that forces them to play a game. It's quite simply one of the best ever musical movies. And a seriously great film.

cert 12 themes, language, drugs, innuendo 28.Nov.06

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls Beyonce in Dreamgirls Jamie Foxx in Dreamgirls Michelle, London: 4/5 "You soon see why Hudson has been nominated for an Oscar - fantastic performance, she didn't look so comfortable during the dance numbers but then she didn't on American Idol either! The music was fantastic, the story great and although Effie may not be the most likeable character, you certainly feel for her. Anyone that doesn't like this film, doesn't have soul!" (9.Feb.07)
© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall