“ Genre: Musicals & Classical / Theatrical Release: 2008 / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Darnell Martin / Actors: Beyonce Knowles, Columbus Short, Eamonn Walker, Gabrielle Union, Mos Def ... / DVD released 2009-07-20 at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL „
I was so excited when I knew this film was on Sky movies, I loved Dream Girls and presumed this film would be just as good. The film was written and directed by Darnell Martin and was released in the UK in 2009.
** The Plot **
The film is set in 40s/50s in Chicago, times were tough and black and whites were forbidden to be seen with each other. Leonard Chess, a white man, had no problem integrating with the backs and found there street music compelling. Leonard set up his own record company, Chess Records, and used talented artists he had found on the street to record records, which in the beginning was known as race music.
Chess Records signed stars such as Muddy Waters, Little Walter who sang the blues, in 1955 Chuck Berry was signed and introduced the sound of rock n roll, Willy Dixon (Howling wolf) was signed as he had a new sound which appealed to Leonard Chess and finally we saw Etta James.
The company grew more successful and the more the songs were played on the radio the more people enjoyed them, regardless of there colour and eventually black and white began to mix and there was nothing the authorities could do about it.
** The Cast **
Adrien Brody plays Leonard Chess
Beyonce Knowles plays Etta James
Jeffery White plays Muddy Waters
Columbus Short plays Little Walter
Cedric the Entertainer plays Willy Dixon (wolf)
Mos Def plays Chuck Berry
For a full list of cast you can visit www.imdb.com.
** The Music **
In my opinion the music is the best thing about this film, however it is not a musical. Songs include Im A Man, Country Blues, I Cant Be Satisfied, Forty Days and Forty Nights, Juke, Im Your Hoochie Coochie Man, My Babe, Smokestack Lightning, Maybellene, Nadine (Is It You?), Surfin USA, No Particular Place To Go, Promised Land, All I Could Do Was Cry, Trust In Me, At Last, Id Rather Go Blind and many more. The soundtrack is available from www.amazon.co.uk.
** My Opinion **
I want to get the bad out the way, the film isn't as god as dream girls and I think it drags in parts making it seem like the film is really long. I have seen the film three times now and each time I watch it I enjoy it more. On the plus the acting is amazing, from the main cast anyways, some of the extras can be a little shady but overall the performances given are realistic and the characters are easy to empathise with.
There are many underlying messages in this film, and the cast have done well to portray the difficulties these amazing artists had to go through at this time. The film is based on a true story and I definitely think the cast did the true characters justice. The singing was amazing from all, of course especially form Beyonce. She sings every song with passion and you can feel the emotion with every word she sings.
I think as well as the film being entertaining it is also helping to educate people on the difficulties and hardships black people had to face and of course most people know this but I for one really felt for these people who were so talented yet so misjudged and discriminated against. I think its amazing how the film can provoke such a reaction form myself and many others.
There are a few twists within the film, which I haven't given away at all as I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't seen it, but its great that you don't really know what to expect.
It is a very clever film its just unfortunate that there is so much expectation from it, I think because I knew Beyonce was in it I was let down when she wasn't present form the start as Leonard Chess signs her later in his career, obviously that means later in the film. Maybe this is why I felt it dragged, due to my anticipation of seeing her sing.
Overall this is a very good film that is entertaining, educational and witty, however I wouldn't recommend it for those under the age of 18 as it contains very strong sexual references along with violence and language. I also think that some may find the themes upsetting due to the delicate nature.
Cadillac Records is one of the more cheerful films I've seen recently, even if there are some elements of sadness incorporated into it. I thought the acting was really rather good, Adrien Brody did a good a job of Leonard Chess who to be fair I know very little of but was a rather warm character who despite being a successful entrepreneur manages to keep most of his volatile artists in check.
Likewise, I found the other actors rather convincing as Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Etta James, Howlin' Wolf and Little Walter. The characters and music are naturally pretty interesting and good fun, so apart from playing the parts convincingly, there wasn't much this film needed to make it good. The script may be a bit strange, it's initial focus is mostly on Leonard Chess attempting to make it big in order to marry another Polish Jewish immigrant whose father doesn't want her marrying a man from the same village, we don't really see anything of her later on though and the focus moves over to Muddy Waters, his wife Geneva and wild child harmonica player Little Walter.
There's yet another change at the end where Chess falls in love with Etta James, I don't know enough about the subject to be an authority on it but I can't seem to find much about this romance and wonder if it was just the director adding a little love story into what is a rather interesting look at Chicago's Chess Records in the 40s,50s and 60s.