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Chicago (PG-13)
Miramax
Official Site
Director: Rob Marshall
Producers: Martin Richards, Marty Richards II, Harvey Weinstein
Written by: Maurine Dallas Watkins, Bill Condon, Fred Ebb, Bob Fosse
Cast: Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Christine Baranski, Taye Diggs, John C. Reilly, Queen Latifah, Lucy Liu, Colm Feore

Rating: out of 5


When it comes to gangster musicals, Chicago is IT.

From the opening scene, we are engrossed in this, the long-awaited film version of the Broadway hit. Set in the roaring ’20s, it’s the story of Chicago chorus gal Roxie Hart (Zellweger), who shoots her unfaithful lover. Landing in jail, she meets Velma Kelly (Zeta-Jones), a star showgirl and murderess, currently enjoying tons of media attention and legal manipulation care of her attorney, Billy Flynn (Gere), king of the old razzle-dazzle. Soon enough, Billy takes Roxie's case as well, and Velma finds herself old news. With Roxie’s overnight success as the most famous murderess in town, she’s on her way to becoming a star. The film depicts the two ruthlessly attempting to get what they want: freedom and fame (not necessarily in that order).

Loads better than Moulin Rouge, Chicago is a musical even for musical nay-sayers like myself. The pacing is what does the trick (i.e. killer editing and cinematography, no pun intended). Luhrmann’s production was just too much—too fast, too choppy, too constant. It all boiled down to over-stimulation that distracted from a great story and beautiful actors and sets. In this film’s case, Marshall and team edit stunningly, seamlessly splicing song-and-dance numbers with spoken word scenes. This made the pace more manageable than Moulin yet faster than the traditional Broadway production.

On top of that, the costumes and makeup were absolutely brilliant. With it, as well as good direction and a good script, the Z twins (Zellweger and Zeta-Jones) both dominate any scene they’re in, meshing murderous vixen with fabulous fishnet starlet. Seeing Richard Gere sing and dance is admittedly silly at first, but even he proves himself to belong in the role after just a couple scenes. And John C. Reilly is a joy to watch, bumbling appropriately through his role as Roxie’s doting hubby.

Maybe you won’t walk away a changed human being, but I recommend that hipster guys and dolls alike view Chicago this season. And all that jazz!

—Michelle Fajkus

 

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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