Jeffrey Wright in Cadillac Records (2008)

Chess's Pieces

Starting in the 1950's "Cadillac Records" tells the story of how Chess records came to be although for those who know there music will tell you that the accuracy is not there. It takes us through two decades from Leonard Chess promoting Muddy Waters who he hears when he and his band come into his bar to using insurance money to set up the studio and giving all his chart topping recording artists Cadillacs. Along the way Chess Records have Muddy, Little Walter, Etta James, Chuck Berry and Howlin' Wolf all making records for the label.

So there are many ways you could approach "Cadillac Records" starting with knowledgeable fans of the musicians mentioned. Now I know a little about Chess Records having once been an avid, or should that be aspiring blues guitarist, and even with my limited knowledge am well aware of issues with time line and characters. As such I can only presume for those with more knowledge will end up less than impressed with the lack of accuracy.

Beyoncé Knowles in Cadillac Records (2008)

But you could approach "Cadillac Records" as purely a fan of the actors as there is a considerable amount of talent in this movie. Jeffrey Wright does a fabulous job of playing a growling Muddy Waters with a real sense of attitude whilst Mos Def impresses and is fun as Chuck Berry. Then there is Beyoncé Knowles as Etta James who simmers in every scene whilst Eamonn Walker is a beast as Howlin' Wolf, a man of conviction who won't be bossed around by anyone and is not intimidated by anyone. These are all first rate performance with Adrien Brody doing a good job as Leonard Chess but always fighting an uphill battle because he doesn't get the musical scenes which the other cast have.

But you could just approach "Cadillac Records" as a fan of movies who loves the nostalgic sound of 50s blues and as such it is pure joy. It has the look, it has the sound and those performances make it engaging from start to finish. Nope it doesn't break new ground when it comes to this sort of biopic but what it does is create the right atmosphere and never becomes bogged down keeping things movie at a pleasant lick. Although in truth by trying to pay homage to so many well known names it struggles to do each one credit.

What this all boils down to is that "Cadillac Records" is entertaining in a nostalgic way with good music and good performances. But for those wanting accuracy will be left disappointed.