Cadillac Records (2008)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Cadillac Records</strong> (2008)

(On Cable TV, December 2018) It’s not easy to make a successful ensemble musical biography, but Cadillac Records does manage to put together a fun and intriguing look at the life of Lionel Chess and the heydays of Chess Records, a pivotal Chicago-based record company that played a crucial role in rhythm-and-blues, as well as the formation of early rock-and-roll. The ensemble cast clearly has fun playing musical legends, what with Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters, Beyoncé as Etta James, Eamonn Walker as Howlin’ Wolf and Mos Def as Chuck Berry, with Adrian Brody as producer Leonard Chess. Writer-director Darnell Martin’s script doesn’t stray far from either the truth or the music movies clichés, but it does have a good narrative rhythm to it. It’s perhaps most remarkable for focusing on a label rather than just a single artist, giving us a glimpse of the relationships between a group of people moving forward in time. The characters are memorable, their stories remain interesting and the music is about as good as it could be. Don’t be surprised to want to revisit Cadillac Records only for the music, leaving it as background ambiance while doing other things.

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