Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by David James

Chicago marks a significant leap in bringing musicals back to film and who better to direct that leap than Rob Marshall. A veteran of the stage, Marshall makes his screen debut with Chicago and he does it with a subtle blend of stage and screen techniques that seems to replace direction with choreography.

Indeed, as you watch this film, you canít help realizing that itís one long dance. Even the pure drama sequences are edited down to a raw beat that moves right in to the next dance number. But whatís really beautiful is that the reverse is also true. When the entire cast is singing and dancing, the drama is not put on hold. This is done by having the characters carry out the drama of their lives while thinking or dreaming in the musical realm. This in turn allows Marshall to add a dimension to the song and dance numbers that at times surpasses the dazzle of the stage.

Iíve always enjoyed live musicals. There is the immediacy of the actors on stage and the live music that adds to the drama. But Iíve always felt that when you remove this immediacy by filming a musical, it is a kiss of death to the drama. Marshall overcomes that with his uniquely choreographed direction.

The story, like many musical stories, is fairly simple, giving us two heroines who prove that you can get away with murder if you find the right lawyer (Richard Gere) to razzle-dazzle the jury and the press. But even the simplest story, when expressed well through the emotional medium of music and dance, becomes a powerful synergy that touches the audience on many levels including the delightful level of damn good entertainment.

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