Chicago (2002)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5

USA/Germany, 2002, , , .  Screenplay by , based on the musical play by , , and the play by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by , , .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Your caboose will definitely shimmy and shake for two hours during this excellent musical by first-time director Rob Marshall (who also did the scintillating choreography as well). Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger are two merry murderesses who are both on trial and could possibly face a hanging: Zeta-Jones for killing her sister and husband, Zellweger for killing her boyfriend in a fit of rage. Will both of them get strung up by the neck, or will the daring savvy of lovesick lawyer  get them off clear of all charges? The joke in Maureen Dallas Watkin’s original play Roxie Hart (which was based on a true story and eventually made into a film starring Ginger Rogers before becoming a Broadway musical in the seventies) is that the misogynistic society that doesn’t allow women any positions of prominence is also incapable of seeing them pull off any acts of violence, thus letting them get away with murder time and time again. Along the way we are treated to a whole bevy of brilliant musical numbers that all take place inside Zellweger’s stagebound brain (it sounds ludicrous but Bill Condon’s smooth screenplay makes it all work), and both she and Zeta-Jones dance their derrieres off and sing with exceptional skill. Colleen Atwood’s costumes are gorgeous, the dialogue is peppy and the pace never lags for a second. Despite there being six numbers cut from the original play, this film never feels compromised as a musical, nor does it bear the unfortunate habit that musical movies of late have of constantly apologizing for their singing and dancing in an effort to appeal to non-fans of the genre.

Academy Awards:  Best Picture; Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Zeta-Jones); Best Art Direction; Best Costume Design; Best Film Editing; Best Sound
Nominations: Best Actress (Renee Zellweger); Best Supporting Actor (John C. Reilly); Best Supporting Actress (Queen Latifah); Best Director (Rob Marshall); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Cinematography; Best Original Song (“I Move On”)

Golden Globe Awards:  Best Picture-Musical/Comedy; Best Actor-Musical/Comedy (Richard Gere); Best Actress-Musical/Comedy (Renee Zellweger)
Nominations: Best Actress-Musical/Comedy (Catherine Zeta-Jones); Best Supporting Actor (John C. Reilly); Best Supporting Actress (Queen Latifah); Best Director (Rob Marshall); Best Screenplay

Screen Actors Guild Awards:  Outstanding Motion Picture Cast; Best Actress (Renee Zellweger); Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Zeta-Jones)
Nominations: Best Actor (Richard Gere); Best Supporting Actress (Queen Latifah)

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