Last Monday I was not having a good day. I don’t remember having a particularly good day at work, and when I came home the LoveFilm disc of The Class (review coming soon) infected my PlayStation 3, my primary film-watching paraphernalia, with an incurable bout of Yellow Light of Death. Fortunately, after a quick 20-minutes of mucking around with SCART leads and speakers, the back-up DVD player was up and running, but alas The Class had no intentions of playing, and to be honest I was in no mood to read subtitles after that debacle, so instead we settled down for a much more easy to watch and far more enjoyable evening of Chicago.
I’ve seen the story twice before, once on film and once on stage, and I think I preferred the small screen to the grand spectacle, though I think on second viewing it isn’t as good as I remembered. Renee Zellweger is as annoying as ever as the naive, waif-like Roxie Hart, incarcerated after killing the man she was sleeping around with (The Wire’s Dominic West). Whilst inside, she meets Catherine Zeta-Jones’ performer Velma Kelly, herself accused of murdering her sister and husband. The two compete for the favours of Matron Mama (Queen Latifah) and super smooth, silver-tongued lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere).
Gere and Latifah seem to be the only ones enjoying themselves, and why Latifah was nominated for Best Supporting Actress I’ll never know, as her performance doesn’t compare to the award winning Zeta-Jones. There’s far too much of Zellweger simpering around the stage, and she seems to have forgotten to tell her face that she’s acting for much of her performance. Her singing is fine, but she is a thoroughly over-rated actress, who in this film is also far too skinny (but then so are all the girls in this film, Latifah aside). More of Gere’s incredibly entertaining Flynn would have gone a long way, as would more screen time for John C. Reilly as Roxie’s cuckolded husband Amos, who’s solo performance of Mr. Cellophane is my personal favourite, along with the wonderfully choreographed Cell Block Tango and Flynn’s marionette manipulation of a gaggle of reporters.
So, whilst it’s not perfect and a recasting of the lead would have been greatly appreciated (though to be honest, I’m not sure who I’d cast in her place) many of the musical numbers are still great fun. Six Oscars and thirteen nominations though? Seems a little excessive.
Choose film 7/10

4 thoughts on “Chicago

  1. Mr. Cellophane is my favorite number from the film, too.On a 1,001 movies related note, are you familiar with the Blog Club associated with it? If not, you can find it here: aren't "must do" assignments, but only "participate when you can" ones. Contacting the guy who runs it is the first step. I joined a month or two ago.Here are two other bloggers I follow who are working their way through the 1,001 movies list (which is actually 1,089 movies long now): for me, I use a label for the films from the 1,001 list that I review, but my format includes many films not on the list as well.

  2. Thanks for the tips, I'll get in contact with the guys at Film Squish soon. I stumbled on their blog recently, when I was looking to add all the films that had been removed from earlier additions of the 1001 Book, but thanks for the reminder.

  3. What's really interesting about this film is that Zellweger won best supporting actress the next year for Cold Mountain, but a lot of people think it was a make-up award for not winning in this one. We'll never know of course, but in a way you can almost say that this film won 7, just that one of them was a year later!

  4. That always annoys me, when actors win awards for a body of work or to make up for a previous loss, like Pacino with Scent of a Woman. I've heard discussions of Colin Firth and Jeff Bridges winning the wrong way round too, Bridges should have got True Grit and Firth A Single Man, rather than Crazy Heart and King's Speech. I'd have loved it to happen just so we'd get the first time the same character being awarded two lead actor Oscars for different actors with Rooster Cogburn.

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