Why We Love Movies: DREAMGIRLS

I was skeptical of the hype surrounding DREAMGIRLS. Critics, disappointed in this year’s crop, seemed desperate to applaud something…anything they could all agree on. (Dave Poland wrote a great article on why he believes DREAMGIRLS will win best Picture simply because it’s the most agreeable choice.)

In particular, I was skeptical of the buzz coming out about Jennifer Hudson and her show-stopping number “And I Am Telling You, I’m Not Going.” I heard she was a lock to win Best Supporting Actress. Audiences were openly weeping and jumping out of their seats to give thunderous applause.

Up until Hudson’s big song, I thought DREAMGIRLS was just okay. The drama was standard bio-pic and the songs weren’t that memorable, except for the catchy “Steppin’ To The Bad Side.”
What I liked immediately about “…I’m Not Going” was that it begins as an argument, a back-and-forth between Hudson’s Effe White and the rest of the cast. Dialogue and singing mix together. It’s a difficult blend, but the direction and performance here are pitch-perfect.
Like Chicago’s “Cell Block Tango”, each new voice increases the energy and intensity until finally Hudson just explodes. It isn’t just her amazing voice that brings down the house, this is an emotional moment full pain covered by anger.
The song does bring down the house. There was both weeping and applause, and a communal joy in the theatre that made me very glad I saw this with a crowd. You just feel it. This is one of the great moments of cinema. They could have rolled credits right there, and Jennifer Hudson would win Best Supporting Actress. The rest of her performance is good, but stands in the shadow of that scene. The same goes for the direction, lighting and editing. For a few precious movie minutes, it's all just perfect.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i haven't seen the movie yet. i hesitate to because jennifer holliday absolutely kills on the broadway soundtrack. i have heard hudson's version and it does not even come close. sorry.

5:48 PM  

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