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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz

Dreamgirls

A Ravishing Powerhouse Production of Superiority


Dreamgirls is a ravishing powerhouse production of superiority from start to finish. I have fond memories of the film from when I was younger and it's been a film that stayed with me. Dreamgirls follows Effie White (Jennifer Hudson), Deena Jones (Beyoncé Knowles) and Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose), a singing trio (the Dreamettes) who after being discovered at a talent show by Curtis Taylor Jr (Jamie Foxx) become backup singers for R&B legend, Jimmy Early (Eddie Murphy). Curtis soon takes creative control of the Dreamettes and thrusts them into the spotlight. Jealousy and the high price of fame soon follows and haunts them all throughout the 60s and 70s as the culture of music and America changes all around them.


Jennifer Hudson wears perfection like a crown as Effie. The role itself has made her a permanent icon and musical goddess in our hearts. Effie has a great personality. She's witty, stylish, caring in her own way, and dreams big for herself and her friends. Being replaced by Deena as lead singer is like a punch in the stomach for her. She's completely blindsided and her resentments aren't bitter but brutal and rightfully so. She has the most perfect voice and while Deena’s a lovely singer, she's no Effie. It's clear Curtis chose her based on her looks and Effie's insecurities go through the roof. Fame isn't about the status for her, it's about respect and she doesn't feel respected. The man who told her to trust him betrayed her trust and her outrage soon turns her friends against her, bringing their professional and personal relationship to a screeching halt.


Beyoncé channels Deena’s journey so eloquently and with such a depth of passion. Deena too is blindsided by being chosen as lead singer. She soon flourishes in her new role but her guilty conscience towards Effie is an embarrassment to her and she deals with it by becoming someone she's not. By the time Effie's out of her life, the entire world knows her name. Effie no longer being there provides her the lens to see the image Curtis has given of her and she doesn't identify with it. She's trapped and is partially responsible.


Jamie Foxx's Curtis is a handsome and manipulative devil. He has drive but he doesn't use it for good. The truth about Curtis as if he had made better choices it would not have prevented him from becoming as successful as he did. He claims he acknowledges Effie's talent but clearly he doesn't. He sees himself as a savior to the trio but really they're the ones who gave him status. Effie was a bed of musical perfection and once he’s slept long enough, he casts her aside as a lumpy mattress. He's a true puppeteer as the strings he has Deena on are so tight, it's going to take much more than a sharp object to cut them.


Eddie Murphy is a ball of ecstatic energy and a true pleasure to watch. He's very cheerful and loves making people happy with his music. He's not arrogant like Curtis but he can be immature which may have been fine before the Dreamettes entered his life but reputation becomes more problematic for him going forward. He's quite impulsive and doesn't think long term. Initially, everything really worked out well for him but success is like a plant, if you water it too much or not enough, it will die.


As an audience, you're bound to get sucked into the glamour of the film but from a safe distance. Musicals are meant to be lively but not always meant to make you happy. Dreamgirls will make you happy as the film is embedded in musical riches and has an upbeat mood with actors whose chemistry will carry you to the very end. The title Dreamgirls goes beyond music and gender. We're all dreamgirls with inner creativity that is meant to be shared as a passion that is meant to express.


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