Best Picture Reviews: Chicago

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Under most circumstances, I’m a huge fan of musicals. However, I surprisingly found Rob Marshall’s 2002 Best Picture winner very underwhelming.

I have not seen the stage show, but that’s not to say I won’t see it sometime in the future. I got the feeling that what I was watching would Some stories just work the best as certain mediums. It’s very clear that the tone of this story works as a stage play. Stage plays have a good amount of suspended imagination somewhere between a book and a movie.

I don’t think Reneé Zellweger was the right choice for this. I think she can act, but I think she’s a little too sweet to pull off what’s supposed to be . At the time this movie was being made, Reese Witherspoon would have been my great choice, and If this movie were made today, I could easily see Jennifer Lawrence in the role.  The remainder of the cast is good, with Catherine Zeta-Jones having the standout role.

But with all that said, I think that the movie does get some things right. Namely, the editing. Editor Martin Walsh has a big job on his hands, but he manages to get the pace of the numbers just right without ever feeling too disoriented is very impressive. (Especially in ‘Cell Block Tango’ which is easily the best song.)

I think the movie is trying really hard to work in this medium, but it just can’t seem to. The role of Roxie needed to be recast with a more feisty actress, but other than that, I’m not entirely sure how I would fix this. I enjoyed it for what it was, but I doubt I’ll be re-watching it any time soon.

***1/2

6 thoughts on “Best Picture Reviews: Chicago

  1. This isn’t a perfect film, but I actually think it works rather well upon repeat viewings, and Zellweger, in my eyes, got the part down right. I’ve seen the stage version, which is spectacular, and as you said, it works better in that medium (and at times I felt like Marshall knew that too well and so he tried to force it into that kind of production, which failed ‘his’ medium). The biggest mistake here was casting Gere. Zellweger’s vocal abilities play well into the character, who wants to be a star but quite frankly never will be, but Gere’s horrible vocals and misplaced charm dampen the film for me.

    Zeta-Jones is on FIRE and deserved that Oscar.

  2. I wasn’t overly impressed by this either (though I found it an interesting part of Chicago history since it’s based, loosely, on a true story–I think it’s a melding of two events). Perhaps it’s more satisfying as a stage musical (to be fair, I’m not big on musicals either)..

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