When the desire for show business becomes too much, Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart turn to murder. But according to them, “they had it coming”. ‘Chicago’ is based upon these two women, and their desperate pleas to be found not guilty for their actions and make it out of prison and find their way to the stage to be the star of the show.
As you can probably tell (or most likely know already), this film is very much a musical. But something quite different to other musicals is that many of the performances, not all, are actually alongside the narrative instead involved within it. For example, the famous ‘Cell Block Tango’ is a performance within Roxie’s mind, and for the audience to get to know about some other inmates of the prison. You would probably be surprised by how many of these songs you would actually recognise, the first time I watched it, which wasn’t the last, I recognised many of the songs. Many would most likely know ‘All That Jazz’. There’s also ‘Razzle Dazzle’ and ‘Mr Cellophane’. The great thing is all these songs are excellently sung and all made into a brilliant performance. The dance scenes are amazing with clearly great dancers. One that is so different but clever is the puppets and dummy in ‘We Both Reached For The Gun’. And of course, the dance sequence in ‘Cell Block Tango’ is brilliantly choreographed. Even love the bit of tap dancing during the trial. Altogether, the film is quite theatrical, the songs are performed on stages in front of audiences, also us as the watchers. I think it’s a really clever way of a musical, especially to portray the obsession the two women have to get upon the stage.
‘Chicago’ is set in the 1920s, so one of the most important things for this film to be a success would be to create the kind of world these two women want to get themselves into. This means the creation of the scenes needs to be brilliant and the costumes need to represent those of the time. This is something ‘Chicago’ does brilliantly. Although, I have to say, because of the costumes, which are stage dresses, the film would probably be inappropriate for younger ages as they are quite revealing clothes (to say the least, a lot of confidence to needed to wear what they do). But altogether, the film brings alive 1920s Chicago.
‘Chicago’ is a film which has many recognisable actors and actresses. Velma Kelly is played by the brilliant Catherine Zeta-Jones, of course she portrays the character amazingly. Roxie Hart is played by the one and only Renée Zellweger (probably most recognisable as a completely different character Bridget Jones). Then there’s Matron Mama, played by Queen Latifah. There’s also Richard Gere (from ‘Pretty Woman’) as the most wanted lawyer Billy Flynn. Additionally, John C. Reilly (Dale from ‘Step Brothers’) and Christine Baranski (Tanya from ‘Mamma Mia!’) playing Mary Sunshine, the reporter. So like I said, many great and recognisable actors and actresses to appreciate in this film.
The film follows the life of Roxie in desperate need for her own stage act, being turned into the “sweetest little jazz killer” to escape her future on death row. Yet in prison finding that Velma is also on death row as they compete for publicity, the lawyer and the number one spot on the front news and eventually the hope back to freedom and being adored for their dancing and singing in the spotlight. I would definitely recommend this film, it is brilliantly done, has enjoyable songs and the performances are excellent. In my opinion, definitely at the top with best musicals.
“And all that jazz”.