HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Arctic
Fate of Lee Khan, The
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Ladyworld
Rocketman
Kid Who Would Be King, The
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound
America America
Darkest Minds, The
Along Came Jones
Hummingbird Project, The
Under the Table You Must Go
Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War
Hanging Tree, The
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare
Itsy Bitsy
Witchmaker, The
Prey, The
If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium
Happy Death Day 2U
Full Moon High
Strange But True
Kamikaze 1989
Never Grow Old
Time of Your Life, The
Mountain Men, The
Epic
Best Before Death
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
Isabelle
Non-Stop New York
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood
Oblomov
Alita: Battle Angel
We the Animals
Ibiza Undead
Wings of Eagles, The
Beats
Body Parts
   
 
Newest Articles
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
Wondrous Women: Supergirl vs Captain Marvel
   
 
  Dreamgirls Once Upon A DreamBuy this film here.
Year: 2006
Director: Bill Condon
Stars: Beyonce Knowles, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Anika Noni Rose, Keith Robinson, Jennifer Hudson, Sharon Leal, Hinton Battle, John Lithgow
Genre: Musical, Drama, Biopic
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: I saw the pre-Broadway trial of Michael Bennet’s Dreamgirls at the Shubert Theater in Boston prior to its opening on Broadway featuring the spectacular debut of Jennifer Holiday. Even at that pre-trial stage the entire theater community already knew that we were witnessing the stuff of legends. I can still remember the excitement in the air of that wintry season. At the time I was a young , impressionable (and a struggling) Emerson College student living next to the Boston theater district. Every evening I could see the crowds lining up at Shubert to catch a glimpse of theater history. Me and my girlfriend Beth finally manage to scout tickets to what became of the most extraordinary theater experiences of our lifetime. After that we were hooked. We both kept coming back to the Shubert every night to try to sneak in during intermission for repeated viewings of Act 2. Needless to say we both became one of the many “Dreamgirls” legions of groupies that resulted, and Jennifer Holiday became our Goddess and muse.

Much has been said about Jennifer Holiday's immortal rendition of the Act 1 show stopping finale "And I Am Telling You. I Am Not Going" in which the main character Effie, an overweight singing Diva, gets fired from her singing group and simultaneously gets dumped by her man which leads to a desperate almost masochistic aria in which she begs and screams with tears and anger for her man not to leaver her. Was the number shamefully manipulative and sentimental? Absolutely! But it was precisely with such emotional cathartic moments brilliantly staged by director Michael Bennett and supported by its legendary performances that “Dreamgirls” transcended its backstage drama cliché trappings to become an unforgettable theatric event. When the film version was officially announced with its cast of Hollywood comedians and American Idol runner ups I suspected that the final result would be disastrous, sort of like what happened to Richard Attenborough’s 1985 adaptation of Bennett’s previous theatrical hit of “A Chorus Line” . But I am pleased to report that I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

Director Bill Condon’s film adaptation of “Dreamgirls” is not only phenomenal triumph that reafirms the power of film musicals but is also possibly one of the few best films of 2006. "Dreamgirls" is an ambitious musical epic that tells the story of Effie (Jennifer Hudson), Deena (Beyonce Knowles) and Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose), an up-and-coming singing trio from Detroit in the 1960’s known as The Dreamettes. The film follows the Motown trio's climb to crossover stardom while embellishing their romances, success, disappointments, tears, laughter and heartbreak. But aside the backstage story, the film also provides social commentary about the civil rights movement and struggles of the nation during that era.

Dreamgirls is perhaps one of the best examples on why movie musicals were invented in the first place. It demonstrates all the exciting possibilities that this very risky and challenging genre can offer if done right. Bill Condon (who previously wrote the screen adaptation of the Academy Award-winning musical Chicago) not only directs but has also written the screen adaptation for Dreamgirls and clearly understands the rhythm, the strengths and the challenges of musical theater film adaptations. Every aspect of the film Dreamgirls confirms Bill Condon’s true love for the movie musical in the same way that he demonstrated with his "Chicago" screenplay.

He is also not afraid to re-invent some of the traditional conventions of the genre to make it more accessible to contemporary audiences. He promptly acknowledges that his biggest challenge is on how to introduce the language of musicals in a way that is credible to an audience not used to characters spontaneously breaking into song and dance. In Chicago addressed this challenge by positioning the musical interludes within the character’s internal fantasies. In Dreamgirls, he takes advantage of the story’s backstage world and introduces the early songs as live performances within a realistic setting. Then he gradually shifts to glimpses of the surreal with short segments of music and recitative delivered in a less traditional way. When the audience has been prepped for some time to the stylistic changes, Condon finds a key dramatic turn in the narrative to allow the characters to finally burst into a full blown song in the old musical theater tradition.

Henry Krieger’s score and Tom Eyen's lyrics are simply spectacular. The music can be best described as Motown channeled by more traditional Broadway rock opera style. 80% of the original score has been preserved and four new fantastic songs have been added which were written especially for the film. The highlight of the score remains “And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going,” not only because is the show’s most recognizable number, but because it’s such a raw primal emotional moment that not only moves the plot to the equivalent of a dramatic cliffhanger but because it clearly illustrate what musicals can do best (giving the characters permission to verbalize in song their internal emotional catharsis that they wouldn’t do in a realistic setting).

The choreography by Fatima Robinson is loosely inspired by Michael Bennet’s original ideas but adapted to work within the film medium. Her spectacular choreography for “ Stepping To Right Time “ number is one of the many highlights on this film. Sharen Davis' glitzy costumes and John Myhre's detailed production design complemented by cinematographer Tobias A. Schliessler (Friday Night Lights) all work together for maximum eye-popping effect. It was also a brilliant move to have Broadway Award-winning lighting designer Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer to design the concert scenes.

Another unexpected surprise was in the spectacular performances of the entire cast. Jennifer Hudson's film debut as Effie is simply memorable and a sure bet for this year’s Oscar nominations. Not only does she demonstrates that she can act but she brings down the house on more than one occasion with her spectacular and electrifying singing voice. Living up to the reputation of Jennifer Holiday's stage Effie was a tough challenge but Hudson not only succeeds in taking complete ownership of the role but adds new insight as well. Her powerful rendition of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," is a landmark moment in film musical history. Eddie Murphy is a revelation and simply perfect as James Early Jimmy a glitzy showman turn drug addict. Murphy’s sharp comic edge is both hysterically funny and electrifying he also demonstrates a solid dramatic side never seen before. He also happens to be a great singer. Jamie Foxx is appropriately charismatic and vulnerable as the bad guy. Beyonce Knowles looks spectacular as Deena Jones. She effectively grasps the shy and quiet qualities of her character later to be transform into a star when she brings down the house with one the new ballads written for the film towards the end. Danny Glover is wonderful as Eddie Murphy's earlier agent and there are also some cameos by John Lithgow as a film director, John Krasinski (The Office) as a screenwriter and Loretta Devine, the original "Lorrell" and the only member from the original Broadway cast appearing in the film.

Dreamgirls is impeccably crafted, and a true labor of love. It casts an irresistible spell with its dazzling energy, deeply felt performances, lavish production values and powerful musical numbers. It is one of those movies that leaves you mesmerized wanting to see it again and again. Pure movie magic!
Reviewer: Pablo Vargas

 

This review has been viewed 5018 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: