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Academy Award® Winner
Winner of six Academy Awards® including Best Picture. Based on the popular musical, two women in 1920s Chicago compete for celebrity status and will stop at nothing for fame.
Starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger, Richard Gere... View more >
Please Note: Reader Reviews are submitted by the readers of The BigScreen Cinema Guide and represent their own personal opinions regarding this movie, and do not represent the views of The BigScreen Cinema Guide, or any of its associated entities.
Jan 7, 2003
In the blink of an eye Chicago envelops its audience in the 1920’s world of jazz, cabaret, and liquor.
Hands grip freshly poured cocktails…
Women in beads and bangles flirt with men who have money to burn…
Trumpets blare in the background…
The plush, low-lighted room smells of smoke, lust, and crisp dollar bills…
Performers primp and savor one last drag on their cigarettes backstage…
Audience members find their seats…
Roxie and Fred stumble into the streets…
Velma wipes the blood from her hands and adjusts her stockings and fringe…
Good evening ladies and gentlemen…
The bandleader’s fingers warm the piano keys, and with a quick 5-6-7-8! the stage show begins.
Don’t expect opening credits in this dazzling film directed by Rob Marshall-—it doesn’t have any. Don’t expect a plethora of surprising plot twists or a lack of campiness—-it’s a musical. Don’t expect a linear story—-its brilliance relies on fantastic parallels and skillful editing that might easily confuse an inattentive viewer.
Expect corruption—-it’s the story’s premise. Expect award-winning performances-—its cast would sellout performances on Broadway for years. Expect an overall stimulating production—-it might make you forget to breathe during the film’s greatest moments.
Screenwriter Bill Condon privileges the character Roxie Hart played by Renée Zellweger. Her eye shuts, the title splashes across the screen, and as soon as she appears onscreen the story is told from her perspective. The choice to tell the story from Roxie’s point-of-view undermines the inherent sexual nature of 1920’s nightlife and the overriding corruption of Chicago during this era, and instead accentuates the performer’s desire to perform. Chicago is not about skimpily clad performers—-it’s about the performance both on the stage and off. Roxie doesn’t want to be a star like Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones)—-she needs to be a star and will do anything to see her name in lights. She craves the stage and views the world through eyes that entertain an audience even though that audience does not yet exist. Time stands still when she appears from behind the curtain and sings stretched out across the piano. Her dreams are her realities, but they are not easily realized in the real world. She needs publicity. She needs people to take her picture. She kills and shares a cellblock with Velma. They share the spotlight in the papers, and the competition for the most dramatically compelling persona and court case ensues.
Roxie and Velma compete for press, and Zellweger and Zeta-Jones compete for top billing in one of 2002’s best pictures. Zellweger ultimately deserves the most praise for her versatile and convincing performance as Chicago’s sweetest little murderess, but Zeta-Jones sets the mood and delivers a nearly perfect performance as the seductive cabaret killer. The women initially struggle when they must interact with one another, as do other characters in this film that prospers largely because of individual performances rather than unblemished cast chemistry, but their somewhat flawed but infrequent exchanges hardly affect the film’s overall success.
The film prospers because of impressive individual performances and these performances are numerous. Marshall and the casting team of Ali Farrell, Tina Gerussi, and Laura Rosenthal assembled a celebrity cast that includes Richard Gere as Billy Flynn, John C. Reilly as Amos Hart, Christine Baranski as Mary Sunshine, Queen Latifah as Matron Mama Morton, Lucy Liu as Kitty Baxter, and Taye Diggs as the bandleader. None of these characters possess depth, and the performances are hardly subtle, but again, Chicago is a musical. Billy is a detestable, self-interested attorney—-he’s not going to change. Amos is a lovable fool—-he’s not going to change. Mary is determined to get the story and cares little about the people who she interviews—-she’s not going to change. And so on and so on, but neither the writer nor the actors should be criticized for not making the characters more dynamic—-flat characters are a staple of the genre, and each and every one of these actors skillfully exhumes his or her character’s most engaging qualities.
The singing, the dancing, and the combination of performances elicits applause throughout the film, and loud cheers of approval erupt during the closing credits. Theatergoers readily participate in the suspension of disbelief when they attend the theater, and moviegoers must do the same for this stage show adapted for the screen. Characters might lack sufficient motivation for dramatic action and important social and political criticism is lost in the spectacle, but that’s show business and the movie musical has rarely looked so good or evoked cries such emphatic cries for an encore like this production of Chicago.
Jan 10, 2003
We enjoyed watching Chicago but we didn't know it was a musical..........
I'm not a musical type person but the talent, music in Chicago was really good.
I'm very glad I saw it.........You will just love the stars singing in this movie..........
Feb 2, 2003
The best trend in filmmaking right now is the resurgence of the movie musical. Movie musicals obviously allow for far more to be done than a stage production, and "Chicago" is a perfect example of that. All of the musical numbers take place in the characters' imaginations in front of an audience. The truly cool thing is that the movie cuts back and forth between the musical numbers and the "real" action in the middle of the songs, giving the songs more weight tand the movie more style. It's all very well done and very cool.
My personal favorite musical numbers had to be Queen Latifah's (rather disturbing) rendition of "When You're Good to Mama," and the hilarious and extremely well done choreography in "They Both Reached For the Gun."
I guess the biggest compliment I can give this movie is that after every musical number I felt like jumping to my feet and applauding. It's really that good.
Feb 12, 2003
One of the best musicals in years, "Chicago" comes into theatres like gangbusters with strong performances and memorable music numbers.
I had to wait for two months before the film made its way into Kalamazoo, but it was wroth the wait. The film is less that spactacular. It's brilliant, The way Director Rob Marshall has handled the movie. It's exactly what Bob Fosse has visionized when he brought the musical to Broadway in 1976.
Fosse was no stranger to the big screen. In 1979, his life story was brough to the screen in "All That Jazz." Renee Zellweger plays Roxie Hart who was brough to trial for murdering her lover. Richard Gere, Katherine Zeta-Jones, Queen Latifah and John C. Reilly gave stunning performances. "Chicago" starts strong, stays strong and ends strong.
And with 12 Oscar nominations, what do you got to lose? This is a brilliant film that begs for an encore. "Chicago" deserves to be seen twice, three times. This film deserves a bow.
Feb 12, 2003
Feb 14, 2003
This movie is very good, but to be honest, I saw a better performance by the Skylight Opera Theatre in Milwaukee, WI. Although the live performance couldn't compete in terms of sets and special effects, the singing and dancing was infinitely better than the movie!
Feb 23, 2003
Mar 1, 2003
I love musiscals....but I've seen better. It is worth seeing, but I wouldn't make it your top priority to see.
Mar 1, 2003
Mar 7, 2003
Mar 11, 2003
As a musical, the music wasn't very good. I enjoyed 2 of about 12 numbers.
As a drama, the acting was fine, but the story was flat.
Mar 16, 2003
I've got to tell you , Chicago is right on , the Music , the Costumes , Sets , Acting.
I first went to see it back in the first week in January - mainly because i love the 20's , but i figured the movie just would not hold up ,how wrong i was , from the very first scene i knew i was going to be in for a treat , and it all leads up to a crescendo that is done so well it brings tears to my eyes (pure joy) Not only should this film win a oscar , few films in history can match this one.
If you don't see this movie in a cinema you are missing out on a Awesome film in a ideal setting !!
Mar 21, 2003
I loved it! The musical numbers are great.
Aug 11, 2003
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