As always, Spoiler Alert
We’re all the hero of our own story.
Perhaps that’s part of the reason I enjoy Chicago so much – I can empathize with Roxie’s (Renée Zellweger) propensity for fantasizing herself in the lead role. It’s something I used to do as a kid, primarily as a way to escape a not-so-happy home life. But while I was happy to picture myself as Princess Leia or Lady Polgara, I never blurred the lines between that fantasy and reality, and I’d never actually kill anyone over it.
Roxie escapes her day-to-day life through music, which is only logical, what with Chicago being a musical, and all. I think that’s what makes it one of the more successful musical-to-movie transitions. While it works fine on stage, I usually find people bursting into spontaneous song and dance in movie musicals jarring. But because those parts are mostly taking place in Roxie’s head, and are staged and costumed radically different from the real world scenes, it makes the transitions between them easier.
It doesn’t hurt that the music kicks ass, as well. When I first saw the film, I knew little about Chicago, beyond it being a musical set in the jazz era. It was kind of fun recognizing songs I grew up listening to as the story progressed and realizing where they came from – All That Jazz, Mr. Cellophane, and Razzle Dazzle in particular. Plus there was the music I was hearing for the first time, like the show-stopping Cell Block Tango, a powerful production number that encapsulates the dichotomy between the real and fantasy worlds of the film.
Speaking of powerful, Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma Kelly is a force. It’s worth watching just for her performance, she’s that good. And there’s Queen Latifah, whom I’ve had a crush on for forever, as Matron ‘Mama’ Morton. Along with Zellweger, they form a trio of women whom, while their actions may be reprehensible, you kind of have to admire for their strength of will and tenacity.
Which is what Chicago is ultimately about, after all: the celebrity of crime. And it works. I’m not gonna lie. It was kind of nice to sit in the dark and dive into a world where morally questionable women kill the men who wrong them, and remain the heroes of the story.
To see other posts in my venture to watch my movie collection in alphabetical(ish) order, click here.