Dreamgirls (2006)

In honor of Juneteenth, today’s DailyView is an Academy Award winning musical from 2006, featuring a who’s who of black actors and performers, Dreamgirls.

Originally a Broadway musical in 1981, Dreamgirls was written and directed by Bill Condon. The film is a fictional story heavily based on the girl groups of the 1960s, in particular The Supremes.

In 1962, Deena (Beyoncé Knowles),Effie (Jennifer Hudson) and Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose) were three friends from Detroit who formed a group called the Dreamettes and they perform in a local talent show. While they did not win, they caught the attention of ambitious car salesman Curtis Taylor Jr (Jamie Foxx), who placed them as the background singers to R & B star Jimmy ‘Thunder’ Early (Eddie Murphy). Their talents broke through as they became headliners. However, Curtis made Deena the lead singer of the group over Effie, the prior lead singer, driving a wedge in the group and sending the proud and stubborn Effie out of the group.

The music of the film is stunning. There are so many great singers involved in the project that every song has such depth and beauty. Powerhouse musical performances from all involved throughout the whole of the film. Jennifer Hudson standing out from a brilliant musical cast with a once-in-a-generation voice.

There are performances all over this movie that are just amazing. Eddie Murphy steps out of his usual work to become the R&B star. Murphy’s performance is so wonderful that you don’t see him as Eddie Murphy, but as Jimmy Early, speaking in first person. Jamie Foxx is excellent as the manipulative manager who rode to success on the backs of his performers.

The glitz of the film was spectacular. The bright, shiny imagery helped to illuminate the performers on their elevation in the music business. The stage sets and the choreography was perfectly done.

The story, at times, felt a little disjointed as I was not sure who was meant to be our main protagonist. The main point of view of the film seemed to shift between Effie, Deena, and Jimmy through much of the movie. It seemed as if the first half of the movie was focused on Effie, but then she disappeared for a good chunk of the film. Everything came together well in the third act, but that did not take away the fact that the story became muddled in the middle.

Despite the issues with the story in the middle, Dreamgirls is a triumph of music and performances and I enjoyed this movie quite a bit.

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