My interest in Cadillac Records stemmed from the simple fact that I liked the cast I saw, specifically Adrian Brody, one of my all-time favorites. I knew little about the story and even less about the musicians it chronicled, but these are the kinds of stories I love so I doubted I’d be disappointed. And I wasn’t. It is the story of the most legendary of blues musicians, of how the music made it into mainstream America, and how so many people found found themselves in the midst of that elusive American Dream. That these musicians did so at a time when segregation and discrimination was so acceptable by white America that it wasn’t even being discussed yet is the most remarkable of feats. Cadillac Records is the story of how music finally became universal, and it is told with energy and honesty.
I expected to like the film for nothing more than fantastic music and actors I already enjoy, but I never dreamed it would move me as it did. Watching the film is like opening up your living room to history, having these legendary artists sit down and tell their stories through their art. Each and every cast member was remarkable, but the movie goes first to Jeffrey Wright, as he embodied Muddy Waters, and to Adrian Brody (as record producer Leonard Chess), who commanded the screen in a way I’ve not seen in a long time. Beyoncé has been the talk of the film, but Eamonn Walker is equally extraordinary as Howlin’ Wolf (of whom I was unfamiliar before). And Mos Def as Chuck Berry, along with Columbus Short as Little Walter, brought electricity and fire to the screen. Cadillac Records should be seen by everyone who loves rock n’ roll. Digging into its beginnings will change the way you hear today’s music.
image from Rotten Tomatoes