Jennifer Hudson is the heart and soul of Dreamgirls.When she’s on the screen, the movie shines. When she’s not, the whole endeavor suffers.
It’s all about the rousing musical numbers, notably Hudson’s show-stopping, heart-wrenching And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going). It’s a rare thing for a movie audience to burst into spontaneous applause after an on-screen musical number, but it happened at my screening, and others.
Hudson’s performance stands out from the rest, though Murphy is surprisingly moving as the fading singer who would like to tackle more relevant material but is held back by manager Taylor.
The weakest link is the stunning Knowles. The camera clearly loves her, and her singing is not in contention, but as an actress, she has a vapid quality. Despite the array of dazzling fashion ensembles, and the effort to channel Diana Ross, her performance remains one-note, particularly in contrast to Hudson’s nuanced portrayal.
The film is worth seeing simply for the on-screen splendor of Hudson, a losing contestant on TV’s American Idol. She’s a natural ? musically and theatrically ? and delivers a tour-de-force performance.
Dreamgirls is all about the star-making machinery, loosely patterned on the career of The Supremes and Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr.The movie Dreamgirls has revved up that machinery, fashioning a star out of a virtual unknown. Perhaps the movie’s tag line should read “A Star is Born.”