I’m not a massive fan of musicals, but that didn’t seem to have much bearing on my thoughts on Chicago. For a while something had been drawing me to this film, but it was only recently that i got a chance to watch it.
The film follows murderesses Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger) as they attempt to escape the hangman’s noose. Velma is a veteran showgirl, while Roxie is a wannabe. Both hire Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), a hot-shot lawyer who has never lost a case, to get them off death row.
I thought the three lead performances were very impressive here. As far as I’m aware, everyone did their own singing and dancing here, and given some of the numbers throughout the film I was quite awe-struck by this fact. Zeta-Jones was devilishly good as Velma Kelly. You really got the impression that she was willing to do absolutely anything to be in the limelight. Zellweger was great as she took Roxie through the transition from bit of a no-hoper to someone who saw the full potential of the situation they were in and sought to exploit it. She blossomed into a character who was an apt rival to Velma and she knew it. Watching the pair trying to figure out how to get one over on each other was very entertaining, and definitely one of the main plus points of the film.
Richard Gere also fitted right in as Billy Flynn. He fancied himself as as a big as the likes of Velma which created an interesting dynamic. Gere captured the smugness and egocentricity of Billy perfectly, meaning there were three main character with huge personalities all fighting for centre stage. Terrific!
Chicago is a fully immersive film. It’s full of 1920s glitz and glamour and really enables you to lose yourself inside the story. There was a lot of attention to detail involved in the whole production, and it all paid off. The costumes, hair and makeup are fantastic, and the sets completely fit into the 1920s landscape. It’s such a visual feast, and as a result you’re never in any doubt about when these stories are taking place, and this works very well in the film’s favour.
The entire film was full of so many amazing scenes, however two stood out for me. The ventriloquism with Gere and Zellweger’s characters was awesome! This was another of those moments where the hair and makeup crew came into their element. They made Zellweger look like an actual puppet and I had thought they’d had a giant Zellweger ventriloquist dummy made. That’s how good it was. The second scene that blew my socks off was the final number where Velma and Roxie perform together. It was a great way to end the film, simple as.
All there is left to say really is that Chicago is an absolute knock-out. It really took me by surprise by how good it was. All of it’s elements work together in a wonderful symphony that truly is very well put together. I can’t remember what this film was up against at the Oscars in 2000, but I have to say that I think was probably well deserving of it’s Best Picture win.