D: Bill Condon
Paramount/Dreamworks (Laurence Mark)
US 🇺🇸 2006
W: Bill Condon [based on the stage musical by Henry Krieger & Tom Eyen]
DP: Tobias A. Schliesser
Ed: Virginia Katz
Mus: Henry Krieger
PD: John Myhre
Cos: Sharen Davis
Beyoncé Knowles (Deena Jones), Jamie Foxx (Curtis Taylor, Jr.), Jennifer Hudson (Effie White), Anika Noni Rose (Lorrell Robinson), Danny Glover (Marty Madison), Eddie Murphy (James 'Thunder' Earley)
Based on the 1981 musical stage play of the same name, Dreamgirls is a tribute to Motown soul of the 1960's & 70's, loosely based on Diana Ross & The Supremes and other music legends around the same period.
Beyoncé received top billing as Deena Jones, a shy singer who replaces the temperamental Effie White as lead singer of soul trio, the Dreams, when she develops a relationship with the band's manager Curtis Taylor, Jr., provoking in-fighting and a restructure of the group's members. Deena's career subsequently goes from strength to strength while Effie's struggles to get off the ground.
Though the film is built around Beyoncé's star status, it's the supporting characters who shine brightest, especially Jennifer Hudson as Effie White and Eddie Murphy as James 'Thunder' Earley, a soul superstar loosely based on James Brown and Jackie Wilson.
Jamie Foxx is also brilliantly cunning as a character implying to be Berry Gordy, Jr.
The attention to period detail is quite excellent, with impressive set designs and costumes, but the film does go on for 10-20 minutes longer than it really needed to.
It's a wonderful homage to the music of the time, but Beyoncé is definitely the weakest link in the entire film. Not to say that it's a bad performance, but she's never asked to do anything outside of her comfort zone. I think it's fair to say that it launched Jennifer Hudson's career as a pop singer more than it did Beyoncé's as an actress.