Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
USA, 2006. DreamWorks, Paramount Pictures, Laurence Mark Productions. Screenplay by Bill Condon, based on the musical book by Tom Eyen. Cinematography by Tobias A. Schliessler. Produced by Laurence Mark. Music by Tom Eyen, Henry Krieger. Production Design by John Myhre. Costume Design by Sharen Davis. Film Editing by Virginia Katz. Academy Awards 2006. American Film Institute 2006. Golden Globe Awards 2006. National Board of Review Awards 2006. New York Film Critics Awards 2006. Washington Film Critics Awards 2006.
From the opening shot this film has a dazzling energy that never slackens before the explosive finale. A loosely factual chronicle of the birth of R&B and the early days of The Supremes, it begins with a three-girl singing group being discovered at a talent contest by a car salesman (Jamie Foxx) who sees them as his ticket into show business. Immediately signing them to sing backup for an increasingly popular singer (Eddie Murphy, in a showstopping performance), Foxx eventually lets the girls be their own act but pushes the superbly-voiced lead singer (Jennifer Hudson) out of the way in favour of the slender, more camera-ready Beyoncé Knowles. Professional rivalries and personal conflicts being what they are, the girls eventually take paths that will lead them to unexpected places, some to financial gains and others to personal losses. Writer-director Bill Condon, adapting the Broadway hit into an equally unforgettable film, treats his audience with intellectual respect by glossing over the plot details that any viewer will already be overly familiar with and concentrating mainly on the fantastic singing. As marvelous as everyone is, including Knowles in her beautiful Diana Ross wigs, none of them match the intensity of Hudson, an American Idol contestant making her feature film debut and stealing the entire show. Her delivery of dialogue reveals someone new to the game of acting (which isn’t to say she’s bad, merely green), but she starts to sing and what comes out of her is raw, honest, vulnerable and heartbreaking, singing that strikes a deep nerve that you won’t easily forget. Watching this young woman become a star during the running time of this film is one of the most pleasurable experiences a movie watcher can have, while Sharon Davis (Oscar nominee for Ray) outdoes herself with the gorgeous costumes.