24 January 2003 | sunhilllad
Wicked & Saucy ..... & Oh So Very Naughty......
Having just seen "Chicago", I must say I was very impress. Kudos to all involved. Rob Marshall has done a fine job in adapting this beloved musical to the big screen (not an easy task), and considering the fact that this is his first big-budget feature, his accomplishment is even more resounding.
The movie follows the lives of two women, living in the tough city of "Chicago" in the 1920's. Velma Kelly (played by Catherine Zeta Jones) is a sexy stage performer, who finds herself thrown into prison after a fit of rage results in the death of both her husband and her sister who have been carry on an illict affair with each other. The other lady in question is wannabe starlet Roxie Hart (played by Renee Zellweger), a married woman, who after being seduced and duped by her devious lover, get revenge on him by shooting him dead. This act of vengeance also see's her taking a trip to prison, and it's here that a battle of one-up-man-ship commences between the two ladies, as both use whatever means at their disposal to get (a) out of jail and (b) gain the most publicity doing it. The connecting factor between Velma & Roxie comes in the form of an unscrupulous high profile defense attorney Billy Flynn (played by Richard Gere), who also knowing when to take advantage of an opportunity, becomes counsel for both women and their respective cases.
"Chicago" is fortunate enough to have several things going for it. Aside from strong direction from Rob Marshall, the film is blessed with memorable performances from it's three leads. Catherine Zeta Jones oozes a vampish nature to her portrayal of Velma Kelly. Looking every inch the star, she commands a strong presence in the film, and appears right at home handling both the singing and dancing aspects of the role with ease and class, not to mention a high degree of sexiness. Richard Gere also plays his part in the movie with aplomb. Despite his questionable tactics and somewhat dubious nature, Gere lends a roguish charm to his character which has you walking away if not liking then at the very least admiring his character's quick skill and cunning guile. Gere is also a strong performer in the areas of singing and dancing (much to my surprise!!). However, it's Renee Zellweger who takes centre-stage in "Chicago" - and boy, does she relish every moment of it. She is without doubt, the "star performer" of this film. With sly nods to past "blonde bombshells" such as Jean Harlow & Marilyn Munroe, Zellweger runs the gauntlet of high and lows that require of her character. From demure & sweet, to sly & munipulative, you never know what she gonna do next. And as with Zeta-Jones & Gere, Zellweger also does justice when it comes to belting out a tune, or doing the hot step.
Our three principals are lucky to have an equally talented supporting cast to back them up. From John C Reilly as the down-trodden husband of Roxie Hart, to Queen Latifah as the "larger-than-life" matron of a women's prison, everyone in this film is right on the mark with their performances. Yet at the heart of any good musical, is of course the musical numbers, and in this respect "Chicago" does not disappoint.
From the opening heat of "All That Jazz", to the saltry "When You're Good To Mama", through to the electric "Cellblock Tango", onto the wistful "Roxie", then to the playful kitsch of "Razzle Dazzle" to the all-out "Finale" featuring Velma & Roxie, "Chicago" scores big-time. The choreography, costume & set designs are all terrific, giving the film the look and feel it's rightly deserves.
With the high-profile success of "Moulin Rogue" in 2001, "Chicago" is likely to follow in the same footsteps, and hopefully this will continue a trend in Hollywood to bring back "the musical" - with the same love & attention that has obviously gone into making "Chicago". I highly recommend this film. You're guaranteed a enjoyable & entertaining night at the movies..... with a smile on your dial, a tune in your head, and a spring in your step ....... go and treat yourself ..... you know you want to.......