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Bill Condon

The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner31/01/2007

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 130 mins

Entertaining, impressively directed musical drama with a show-stopping, Oscar-nominated performance by Jennifer Hudson.

What's it all about?
Based on the 1980s' stage musical, Dreamgirls stars Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Hudson and Anika Noni Rose as Deena, Effie and Lorrell, three members of The Dreamettes, a thinly-veiled Supremes-style girl group. Spotted by music impresario Curtis Taylor (Jamie Foxx) at a Detroit talent contest, they are quickly lined up to support an initially reluctant James Thunder Early (an Oscar-nominated Eddie Murphy), with the promise of their own career further down the line.

However, when Taylor decides that the girls have a chance at breakthrough success, he promotes gorgeous Deena to lead vocal, sidelining soulful Effie both on-stage and off. With a new Dreamgirl (Sharon Leal) replacing Effie, the band soar to the giddy heights of success, but is it everything that they hoped it would be?

The Good
Directed by Bill Condon, Dreamgirls looks sumptuous throughout, with colourful set designs, vibrant performance scenes and snappy editing. The cast are terrific too – Beyonce holds her own in her most demanding role to date, whilst Eddie Murphy is superb as the preening, girl-chasing Early, part Little Richard and part James Brown.

There's also strong support from Jamie Foxx (who isn't afraid to make his character unlikeable) and Danny Glover as the girls' sidelined manager but it's undoubtedly Jennifer Hudson who steals the show. Her performance is nothing short of astonishing whether she's belting out the big show-stopping numbers or holding it together during the big emotional scenes.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the music doesn't give much of a flavour of Motown and, with one or two notable exceptions, the songs are mostly of the soulful ballad variety. Similarly, the production seems to be in morbid fear of being sued by Diana Ross, meaning that some of the more controversial scenes (eg. Taylor's affair with Deena) are quickly glossed over.

Worth seeing?
The film is slightly too long but Dreamgirls is still an entertaining drama that's unquestionably worth seeing for Jennifer Hudson's performance.

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Content updated: 20/07/2019 22:26

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