Dir: Rob Marshall
That’s how to do a musical about murder… rather than murder a musical!
‘Chicago’ is about murderesses in prison, most notably newest addition Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger) who wants to be a star like fellow inmate Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Hart is encouraged by the corrupt prison matron ‘Mama’ Morton (Queen Latifah) to hire slick lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) to front her defence as he’s creative and never loses.
The director Rob Marshall comes from a background of theatre, however he doesn’t fall into the trap of being constrained by the limits of staging a production, rather he fully uses the abilities of film. Throughout the film musical numbers are intercut with the other action, putting a ‘stage’ performance and it being done ‘in situ’ together, with both aspects being progressed and explained by each other. This technique works very well, especially considering the storyline that Hart and Kelly both come from / are going to stage careers.
‘Chicago’ was a huge success on its release both in the box office and critically, receiving 13 nominations at the Academy Awards and going on to win 6 of them, making it the most succesful musical ever at the Oscars. I’m no aficionado, but it rates highly in my opinion of the musicals I’ve seen, mainly as it blends the stage and screen so well together giving respect to each style, and has a good sense of fun and humour too despite a subject matter that is far from funny.