Time: 113 mins.
Won Academy Awards for Costume, Art Direction, Editing, Sound, Supporting Actress and Best Picture. Nominated for Best Actress, Director, Song, Cinematography and Adapted Screenplay.
The movie musical is back and better than ever. Having never seen the stage version, I have no idea if this is an accurate interpretation and I don't care. Marshall creates a perfect union of music and drama, that's energetic, flashy, smart, funny and downright sexy. Not as outrageously whimsical, tragic or visceral as MOULIN ROUGE, CHICAGO still manages to marry traditional filmmaking with musical magic. Zellweger and Zeta-Jones are perfectly cast as uncaring killers with hearts of stone and dreams of gold. They take on quite a task physically and vocally, proving they are not only attractive actresses, but quite competent chanteuses as well.
Their vocal styles are polar opposites Zeta-Jones is sultry and forceful, Zellweger soft and sweet yet they each carry a power that can't be ignored. Gere suffers in comparison on the vocal front, but he more than delivers in the real world sequences. His performance as a scum bag lawyer looking for a quick buck and long term publicity is a role he could play in his sleep, yet he shows more spark and charisma here than he has in a very long time. Not an award-winning turn in my opinion, but one that makes the film more enjoyable.
The film opens on the night singing sensation Velma Kelly (Jones) is arrested for murdering her husband and sister. Roxie Hart (Zellweger), a performer desperate to enter the showbiz world, winds up in the slammer with Kelly after shooting her own lover, a furniture salesman who promised to help make her a star. By greasing the palms of the prison warden, Momma Morton (Latifah), they each enlist the services of Billy Flynn (Gere), the only lawyer in Chicago to never lose a case. In it more for the publicity than the cash, Billy turns from Velma to Roxie since her headlines are bigger. Unfortunately, if he loses, Roxie hangs.
Of course, all she cares about is how big her career is going to be when she beats the rap. Velma doesn't take too kindly to being usurped by a nobody, so she enlists the help of Morton to try to unseat Roxie in the eyes of the public and the mind of Billy. Though blond, Roxie is smarter than she looks, working the papers for every possible bit of sympathy she can get. Even with Billy's clever showmanship, it's going to take a lot to convince a jury of her innocence. Especially since she admits she committed the crime. It's a fight to the finish with flash and falsehoods winning over justice.