Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones star in this Oscar-winning big screen adaptation of the popular Broadway show. In 1920s Chicago nightclub singer Velma Kelly (Zeta Jones) and aspiring starlet Roxie Hart (Zellweger) are both arrested on the same night for committing two different murders. Placed in jail together, both women accept the advice of lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) and soon begin using their present circumstances to further their quest for wealth and fame.
Adapted from the long-running stage version, this big-screen Chicago
is a non-stop singing and dancing extravaganza that may well herald the welcome revival of the film musical. When the part-time lover of wannabe star Roxie (Renee Zellweger) is murdered, she is banged up with Chicago's most famous singing murderess, Velma (Catherine Zeta-Jones). They compete for the attention of the best lawyer in town, Billy Flynn (Richard Gere). Drawn to the special angle of Roxie's case (the sweetest killer to hit Chicago), Flynn offers her a taste of stardom and her daydreams of singing on stage are juxtaposed with the action.
Chicago has transferred well to film, seamlessly merging Dennis Potter-esque dream sequences with the action. Though the stage show uses sets sparingly, here the look has been heavily influenced by the only successful musical of recent times, Moulin Rouge, with heavy velvets and drapery offering a rich feel to the murky underworld of 1920s Chicago clubs. The hot question is: can the movie stars cut it as performers? Surprisingly, it is Zellweger who looks most comfortable in the part, regardless of her awkward dancing. Zeta-Jones is just that little bit too butch to be believable as a flapper girl, despite her stage school roots, and lacks a certain panache. But one thing is in her favour: she's believable as the ultimate starlet bitch. Gere does not fare much better, with his tap-dancing sequence littered with cutaways (mercifully his dancing and singing is kept to a minimum). The real show-stealer is Queen Latifah, whose matron of the cells is perfect and her singing spot-on. More than anything else, though, this film will whet your appetite to see the original on the West End stage. --Nikki Disney