(Photo: David James/Paramount
Beyonce doesn't sing the blues, even if her character
Deena Jones is loosely based on Diana Ross (who played Lady Day Billie
Holliday in the film "Lady Sings The Blues", for which she received an Oscar
nomination.) The superstar singer and songwriter is going platinum not
just with her hot-selling records and music career, but is also getting
solid reviews for her role as Deena, the strikingly beautiful woman who
overnight becomes the new lead singer of The Dreamettes, and wins the
affections of Curtis Taylor, Jr. in Bill Condon's "Dreamgirls." Deena
is the most glamorous and arguably most beautiful of the three Dreamettes,
but she is overshadowed by the singing prowess of Effie White, whose vocal
talents and skills are more than just that bit better. The two characters
tension between them on the Dreamettes' stage, and Curtis has to manage the conflict that
he in part has created between them.
There is no conflict however, between
Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson, even as some corners of the entertainment media
published stories saying that Paramount Pictures has been trying to push Beyonce
for a Best Actress Oscar nomination in its campaign, over Jennifer Hudson.
There is no truth at all to such stories, and Paramount itself has in recent
days and weeks declared the stories to be inaccurate. The studio is
pushing each of the actors in their awards season campaign.
Beyonce has appeared in
such films as "Austin Powers In Goldmember", "Fighting The Tempatations",
and "The Pink Panther",
but "Dreamgirls" is her star role, and she excels as Deena, who at one point
looks exactly like Diana Ross. The 25-year-old Grammy winner was told
nine years ago that she was born to play the role of Deena. In fact,
Beyonce, who can belt out tunes with great energy, reigned herself in.
"Because Deena's performance style is so different from my style, I had
to hold back, to remind myself, 'Don't sing it in full voice, sing it like
Deena.'" Deena is a multi-layered character, and a lot more appears to
be going on beneath those ocean-deep eyes that she has. Similarly,
moviegoers will see that Beyonce's performance goes beneath the surface of
anything that she has done before. To hear the phenomenal singer and
former lead of the group Destiny's Child say it, Deena is hers, down to a
tee. "She is all about subtleties---she's very feminine and sexy, in a
subtle, slightly mysterious way." There is nothing mysterious however,
about Beyonce's performance in "Dreamgirls". "People are going to be
very shocked . . . because I know they might be expecting 'Beyonce', but
Beyonce is nowhere in this movie."
Indeed, she is correct. There
is not a trace of the star singer in Deena, even though Beyonce's musical
background, like those of her co-stars, did not hurt at all. She
submerges any diva-esque impulses and digs deep into the role, which may be
rewarded with award nominations during this busy awards season. Her
song "Listen", written specially for "Dreamgirls" may just be the best song
Oscar winner come late February.
--Omar P.L. Moore
originally published on December 12, 2006