In this tale of sex, violence, race, and rock and roll in 1950s Chicago, "Cadillac Records" follows the exciting but turbulent lives of some of America's musical legends, including Muddy Waters, Leonard Chess, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf, Etta James and Chuck Berry.
Writer-director Darnell Martin’s shuffle through old-school R ’n’ B
is shambolic but authentic, affectionate and enjoyable. A MOJO-reading muso’s dream, the plot, set as blues gave way to rock ’n’ roll, sees Leonard Chess’ (Adrien Brody) nightclub burn down, leading the entrepreneur to start a record label to showcase his artists: Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright), Howlin’ Wolf (Eamonn Walker), Chuck Berry (Mos Def) and Etta James (Beyoncé Knowles). Brody is too opaque to give the movie a real centre, but the music kicks up a storm, and the real revelation is Knowles, who burns a hole in the screen as sexy, drug-addled siren Etta — in a better film she’d be Oscar-nominated, no worries.
Beyoncé proves her Dreamgirls turn was no fluke in this so-so Blues melodrama.