December 27, 2002
By Veronica Mixon
Chicago is a dazzling musical with
bold personalities, exhilarating dance numbers
and joyous song. Director Rob Marshall has brought
this popular Broadway musical to the big screen
in an innovative and thrilling way. Depression
era Chicago with its lustful appetite for crimes
of passion and glitzy celebrity comes to life
on stage and in the imagination of the performers
from behind bars.
Taye Diggs narrates the story of two women battling
for tabloid stardom. Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones)
is arrested for murder after catching her sister
and cheating husband together. A celebrated singer
and dancer, Velma immediately hires lawyer, Billy
Flynn (Richard Gere) because the slick, debonair
mouthpiece knows exactly how to mesmerize the
press and the public. Meanwhile, Roxie Hart (Renée
Zellweger) shots her lying lover when he tries
to leave without fulfilling his promises to her.
The innocent blonde stuns everyone and Flynn quickly
delays Velma's trial and focuses all of this attention
on Roxie. Shocked by the turn of events, Velma
plots to win back the spotlight.
Chicago has several big numbers
and both Zeta-Jones (best known for Traffic)
and Zellweger (Bridget Jones Diary) shine.
The dark and lovely Catherine swings her long
legs like a Broadway pro. Her performance is flawless
and that includes her singing and dancing. Renée
is equally good and her white-hot blonde close-ups
reminded me of Marilyn Monroe. She sheds her fragile
facade and reveals a powerful voice and a sexy,
vampy personality. Director Marshall cleverly
cuts the film and makes the singing and dancing
Richard Gere (Unfaithful), who didn't
audition, sings like a veteran, too. He has the
right slick, glamorous look and his fast-talking
Flynn knows exactly how to promote either client.
Queen Latifah (who was so good in Living Out Loud)
portrays Matron Mama Morton on murderer's row
and proves once again that she's inherited Pearl
Bailey's crown. Christine Baranski appears as
the fickle journalist, Mary Sunshine. The last
surprise comes from the busiest character actor
in films (Gangs of New York, The Hours)
today - John C. Reilly. As Roxie's naive husband,
Reilly delivers a gut-wrenching song about his
pain. It is truly amazing!
Chicago is one glorious ride!