CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 12
  • Comedy, Crime
  • 2002
  • 112 mins

Chicago

Chicago

Synopsis

Classy, entertaining film version of the hit musical. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger and Richard Gere are among the Hollywood types putting on a show

About

The 1990s revival of the musical 'Chicago', both in London and on Broadway, prompted a big screen version at a time when there were scant attempts at the genre. While Baz Lurhmann's Moulin Rouge and Lars Von Trier's Dancer In The Dark, were vigorously post-modern affairs, Chicago is a throwback to the more traditional musicals of the 1940s and 1950s. As such, it's surprisingly effective.

The story is set in 1929 Chicago, but instead of gangsters and prohibition, the criminals here are man-murdering women. The story follows cabaret singer/dancer Velma Kelly and wannabe star Roxie Hart, whose crimes of passion land them in prison, where they become arch rivals for the attentions of super-attorney Billy Flynn - each hoping that he will save them from the gallows.

The casting is imaginative, to say the least. Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Velma, Renée Zellweger (hot after Bridget Jones's Diary) is Roxie, and Richard Gere brings his inimitable brand of false charm and insouciance to the role of Flynn.

After an unengaging start, the action hots up when the two women are incarcerated. The prison numbers are among the best in the film - brilliantly choreographed, utilising a sexy, accomplished chorus. 'Cell Block Tango' is thrillingly reminiscent of Elvis Presley's 'Jailhouse Rock', and 'When You're Good To Mama', performed by rapper-turned-actress Queen Latifah is the best-sung number in the film. Gere's entrance also spices up proceedings. Often an actor who underplays so much he seems barely alive, he ups his wattage here and demonstrates a rarely seen comic touch. 'Reached For The Gun', with Gere playing a ventriloquist and Zellweger his dummy, is hilarious.

The two leads have so-so experiences. Zeta-Jones gives a ballsy, charismatic performance, but her character is too-often sidelined by the plot. Zellweger can't sing or dance, and looks painfully emaciated (a reaction perhaps to gaining all that weight for Bridget Jones), but with her strength as a comedienne she ably provides the spine of the film.

While the song and dance numbers are mostly performed on stage, the film does open out occasionally onto a nicely realised fictional Chicago and director Rob Marshall, an experienced stage choreographer, provides enough cinematic visuals to make this a valid screen outing. Its commentary on celebrity is also apt for contemporary audiences. By the finale, as Zellweger and Zeta-Jones at last perform a number together, you can feel the electric charge down your spine - what more could you ask?

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Dominic West, Lucy Liu, Renée Zellweger, Christine Baranski, John C Reilly, Queen Latifah, Taye Diggs, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere
  • Director: Rob Marshall
  • Writer: Wendy Wasserstein, Bill Condon
  • Producer: Harvey Weinstein, Martin Richards
  • Photographer: Dion Beebe
  • Composer: Danny Elfman

In a nutshell

Good, easygoing, sometimes inspired entertainment. An eclectic cast let their hair down with some rollicking songs and an amusing script.

by Demetrios Matheou

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Stone

    Stone

    Robert De Niro, Ed Norton and Milla Jovovich star in this drama thriller about a convicted arsonist trying to manipulate a parole officer with the help of his beautiful wife

  • Film4 Pusher

    Pusher

    Nicolas Winding Refn's Danish crime thriller is given a British makeover starring Richard Coyle and Agyness Deyn

    On Film4: 27 Feb 10:45PM

  • Film4 Serenity

    Science-Fiction Season on Film4

    The future starts here! Film4's 2015 season of science fiction features classics of the genre, old and new

  • Film4 The Last Exorcism Part 2

    The Last Exorcism Part II on Film4

    Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) returns with no memory of the terrible events she experienced in the first film, or that they were only the beginning on Film4.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Postcard from Sundance

    Dark Horse director Louise Osmond on visiting Sundance for the first time, where her film premiered to critical acclaim and won the Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary. [caption id="attachme

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Film4 signs development deal with Jonathan Glazer

    Film4 has announced a development deal with Under The Skin director Jonathan Glazer, continuing its longstanding relationship with the acclaimed British filmmaker. David Kosse, Director of Film4, s

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share