Most audiences won't go to see Cadillac Records with Columbus Short in mind, as his previous films have done little to showcase his actual talent. However, Short refuses to take a backseat in Cadilliac Records, as he carries his supporting role right to the front of the generally well-cast vehicle. Even younger audiences who probably won't be very familiar with Little Walter's legacy will find Short's portrayal of the alcoholic and often volatile bluesman impressive. Short's performance is dark and incendiary in all of the right places, and just as funny and light-hearted when it needs to be. As Little Walter transitions from a street-smart teen suffering from the lack of a stable family, to a substance abusing star desperate to hold on to his waning fame, Short handles the material with the character-acting instinct and intuition of a veteran, easily stealing nearly every scene in which he's featured. And while many are anticipating Oscar buzz to surround one of Cadillac Records' bigger stars; I wouldn't be surprised if Short delivers another Dreamgirls upset.
Elsewhere in the film, Gabrielle Union delivers a wonderfully demure portrayal of a truly desperate housewife, while Beyonce turns in a better than expected performance as haunted living-legend Etta James. Though Knowles is still stiff and unconvincing in her approach toward everyday material, she was surprisingly impressive in scenes that called for her to exercise a little more dramatic skill.
I'll give credit where it's due.
Oh, and Mos Def as Chuck Berry was golden!