Forget Beyoncé. She can only sing. Even when she is acting, she is singing. In Cadillac Records, she appears late in the film as Etta James. But nothing like Etta James comes out of her performance. All we see is Beyoncé singing something about having a mean white father, a mother who was a prostitute, and a heart that's been broken by so many men. When Adrien Brody, who plays Leonard Chess, the founder of Chess Records, the label that helped launch the rock-and-roll moment in pop music—when Brody holds Beyoncé in his arms, he is not holding a person but a piece of music. The thing that does not know how to stop singing—this is Beyoncé. A being that talks like a tune, walks like tune, looks like tune—this is Beyoncé. Pop is her blood.
So, when you watch this film, forget Beyoncé and focus instead on four great performances: Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters, Columbus Short as Little Walter, Mos Def as Chuck Berry, and Eamonn Walker as Howlin' Wolf. Indeed, the two best things about this film are Def as Berry and Walker as Wolf. Finally, the very best thing about this movie is Walker as Wolf. Walker brings out of his Wolf a black man who is a total force. This is a black male who has a compete sense of his black maleness. His body moves and exudes its black masculinity like the body of a tiger moves and exudes its tigertudity. Watch the movie, and you will see exactly what I mean.