Movie review by Andrea Karen Hammer
Dreamgirls (2006), a behind-the-scenes look at the music industry, reveals the intensified competitiveness for three Supremes-like black singers on the rise in the 1960s and 1970s.
As the initial lead singer with a booming voice, Jennifer Hudson enlivens the role of Effie White with sass, spirit and major attitude. However, her career is derailed when manager and love interest Curtis Taylor (Jamie Foxx) insists that Deena Jones (Beyonce Knowles) needs to step up to the front mic. Claiming that her sleek looks and slimmer appearance will speak to a younger generation, he plays and sabotages both women while cutting deals at all costs.
Embodying Deena on every level, Beyonce Knowles turns heads and attracts unwanted man handling, which her protective friends block. Along with dealing with Foxx’s stifling control as her manager and husband, Deena finally breaks free and sparks independence through a sequence of fiery songs. After refusing to take the role of Cleopatra even though Foxx wants her to dispel all limiting perceptions of black actresses, she blows the final whistle when Effie (Jennifer Hudson) reveals that Curtis is the father of her now 9-year-old daughter.
Explosive Dynamics Explored Through Music and Dance in Film
Dreamgirls is particularly notable for capturing the explosive dynamics in all relationships. While interlacing romantic scenes with angry exchanges among the various and frequently changing couples, the film also explores the equally significant connection among women. Although the men prompt some of the competition, the singers’ strong friendships are their ultimate source of power and survival.
The central elements of music and dance in film are additional points of interest in Dreamgirls. These once popular but mysteriously lost cinematic techniques drive the movie as the actors literally sing through their conversations and work out their woes. A scene with male dancers practicing in a mirrored studio is one of the visual standouts in a series of striking images, distinguishing the film’s stunning photographic approach.
Questions for Artsphoria’s Online Film Forum
Do you think that the use of music and dance works effectively in this film, and why or why not? Why do you think musical movies fell out of favor and are rarely produced today?
How does the film version of Dreamgirls compare with the Broadway show? Which one was most effective, and why?
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