Bottom Line: Two murderesses and a lawyer run away with six Oscars in this flamboyant musical.
Directed by: Rob Marshall
Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere
Ostentatious musical takes a sarcastic look at the story of two murderesses and their rise (or rises, one could say) to fame on the stage. This was the first musical in 33 years to win Best Picture, the previous being OLIVER! in 1969, and I can now honestly say that this didn’t deserve to win Best Picture, but it did not deserve to lose, either. Before I had seen this, I was almost positive that THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS should have been the film to win Best Picture in ’02; now, I am stuck between the two.
The tagline of this film (“If you can’t be famous…be infamous”) basically sums up the whole story: Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger) and Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) both commit murders that land them in gaol together. While in gaol, they both do everything they can to rise to fame and success, a potentially high hope for Roxie, but somewhat a return for Velma.
Besides the music, the Oscar-nominated cinematography is most worthy of applause. There is the usual feeling embedded that gives you the feeling that you are, in fact, watching a motion picture on a screen; as well as the combined mood that convinces viewers that they are most likely watching a stage musical. During musical numbers, the camera work is both interchanging and easy to follow: for example, at one point you see John C. Reilly on a stage performing with makeup on and the spotlight centered on only him; shortly later, he is speaking to someone else in a room with the tune continuing as background music.
The sarcastic taste of CHICAGO was intelligent and, at times, ironic, but it did not completely throw me like I had expected. Almost everything here, in fact, is sarcastic in one way or another. It all ranges from the subtle (such as a sarcastic line here and there) to the utterly ridiculous (such as the fact that one of the women in gaol murdered her husband only because he was popping his gum and getting on her nerves). If you can’t stand that, then this film is not for you, because without all the sarcasm and razzle-dazzle, CHICAGO simply would not be CHICAGO.
SOUNDTRACK GRADE: 8.5/10