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Chicago (15)



Review by: Lizzie Guilfoyle | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary with director Rob Marshall and screenwriter Bill Condon; Behind the scenes special (28 mins); Deleted scene with optional commentary.

CHICAGO slips effortlessly from stage to screen without losing any of its original razzle dazzle.

A tale of murder, passion, sex and, of course, ‘All That Jazz’, Chicago follows the misfortunes of aspiring vaudeville star, Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) and her mentor, the moderately successful Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), whose lives become inexorably entwined when, charged with separate murders, they find themselves prisoners in the same cell block.

Enter Matron Morton, the irrepressible Mama (played by the delightful Queen Latifah) and the charismatic, but equally corrupt, lawyer, Mr Billy Flynn (a somewhat surprising Richard Gere) who together, and for a substantial sum of money, set about proving the girls’ innocence by decidedly foul means.

Shifting adroitly between reality and fantasy, dramatic cinema and musical theatre as Roxie’s world moves from prison to courtroom to stage, Chicago is a stunning spectacle, filled with human emotion cleverly underlined by the vibrant pulse of music.

Who, for example, can fail to sympathise with Amos Hart, Roxie’s cuckolded husband (John C Reilly) as he pours out his heart in ‘Mr Cellophane’ or, equally, rejoice with Roxie - in this scene, less voluptuous but yet strangely reminiscent of a young Marilyn Monroe - as she envisages a future with her name in lights?

While Zellweger is superb, it’s Zeta-Jones - here sporting a sleek bob - who sizzles as vexed vamp, Velma, showing just how far she has come since ‘The Darling Buds of May’.

And both girls can sing and dance along with the best as, indeed, can Gere. His rendition of ‘Both Reached For The Gun’, with Roxie a puppet on his knee, is as funny as it is ingenious. Watch out, too, for a surprise cameo appearance by one of Charlie’s Angels.

For those who love musicals and have seen the original, Chicago won’t disappoint, unless it’s the omission of Mary Sunshine’s character being played by an actor in drag.

Rob Marshall (director/ choreographer), however, felt that such an inclusion wouldn’t work on film and, instead, cast acclaimed actress, Christine Baranski, who plays the savvy, possibly corrupt, reporter/sob sister to perfection.

For sceptics of musicals, on the other hand, the film might come as a pleasant surprise.

 

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