IF YOU loved Moulin Rouge, you’ll love this movie even more. If you did not, it doesn’t matter because this movie is far better and more spectacular anyway.

Based on Maurine Watkins’ award-winning play, Miramax Films’ Chicago is a hybrid broadway musical and multi-genre film. It’s a story of the decline of a stage star, and the rise of a naïve but ambitious blonde, all because of one sensational murder.

Chicago, directed by Rob Marshall, has all the elements of a good movie—top-caliber actors, a very appealing plot, and highly intricate filmmaking packed with amazing visuals, fabulous choreography, and great musical score.

Roxie Hart (Renee Zelwegger) will do anything to reach her dream of becoming a star. She meets a man who promises to fulfill her wish, but turns out to be a fraud. Hart, overwhelmed by hatred and revenge, guns down and kills the man.

In prison, she meets the very famous stage performer, Velma Kelley (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who killed husband and sister who were having sex. Hart tries to befriend the star, but the arrogant Kelley just tells her to stay away.

Hart’s admiration turns into an intense desire to outshine Kelley and exact revenge. The prison warden, Matron Mama Morton (Queen Latifah), tells Hart the only way out of prison is to hire the best criminal lawyer—Billy Flynn (Richard Gere). Flynn, who hasn’t lost a single case, happens to be Kelley’s lawyer. Hart hires the $5,000-lawyer through the hardwork of her pathetic but very loyal husband, Amos (John Reilly).

Flynn manipulates Hart’s case and transforms her image into a modest woman who dreamt of becoming a nun, instantly making her a star. What follows is tug-of-war for fame, with both Hart and Kelley realizing in the end that life is just a stage, and like the memory of their crimes, their shot at fame is short-lived.

'Run with me'

What made the movie remarkable was the effective and seamless interweaving of the broadway scenes into the story. Editing was meticulously made giving way to smooth transitions from illusion (theater) to reality (world of the characters). There were a lot of cuts and juxtapositions contributing to the heightened and fast-paced flow of the movie. The artistic camera shots complemented the delicate handling of scenes by the director.

The theme was not as tragic as it seemed because there were handful elements of humor and sarcasm. The gripping performances of the lead actors drew admiration to their roles rather than contempt.

Zeta-Jones and Zelwegger portrayed their roles well. Their acting as well as their dancing and singing were commendable. One can easily see the differences and similarities in their characters: Kelley as the seasoned, veteran, yet cunning stage star who will do everything to keep herself in the limelight; and Hart, the innocent, clumsy, but manipulative rising star, who will do everything to put herself onstage.

Gere gave one of his best performances. While he could not dance as much as the other actors, he defied himself by doing surprising moves, like the tap dance and the equally entertaining courtroom show.

The movie successfully combined what other movies had desperately tride to but failed—the Hollywood glitz-and-glamour plot, and the Europeans’ experimental and artistic filmmaking. Myra Jennifer D. Jaud


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