Chicago (2002)
Directed by Rob Marshall
Written by Bill Condon, Maurine Dallas Watkins, Bob Fosse, and Fred Ebb

If you watch enough bold-but-flawed indie films, enough cool-and/or-cheesy "cult movies," enough ironically hilarious mainstream misfires, it's easy to become cynical about even bothering to watch a film like Chicago. Everyone and their mother (especially their mother) loved it, the box office loved it, the Academy loved it, and on and on. My instinct told me to just avoid it … because most likely, I would like it too, and what self-respecting contrarian wants to own up to that?

Sure enough, I liked it. Chicago is brilliant, so fully realized on virtually every level (visuals, acting, direction, dancing, singing, casting) that I'm hard-pressed to think of a movie musical that even comes close. I enjoyed Cabaret, and yeah, Moulin Rouge too … hm, maybe I am closeted after all—a closet mainstream movie lover, that is.

But Chicago tap-dances around virtually any filmed Broadway show you can name. It thrills, it sparkles, it titillates, pure razzle-dazzle all the way.

Kander & Ebb's songs do a lot of the work, certainly, but it's in the ways that the film manages to be a film (as opposed to a filmed musical) that Chicago wins big. The story is internal, with the nightclub setting seving as a conceit for glamorous murderess Roxie Hart's prison experience … think of it as a very gay variation on HBO's "Oz."

Renée Zellweger is just perfect here, once again trumping my vague desire to dislike her. Catherine Zeta-Jones is radiant and wonderful. Richard Gere is alright. Queen Latifah is pretty good. Taye Diggs shines in a small role. All are well-cast and delightful to watch.

Chicago is a big film, full of great songs and choreography, yes, but amazingly fleshed out in terms of characterization, depth, witty dialogue, and … I can't find another way to say it … ooomph. In its way, it's as thrilling as The Lord of the Rings, albeit a whole lot more sparkly.

Review by La Fée