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:: Chicago

Originally written as a play back in the 1920s by Maurine Dallas Watkins, the story of Chicago has had many reformations. First performed as a play in 1926, it was adapted for the screen first in 1927 as a silent film and then again in 1942 under the name Roxie Hart. In 1975 Chicago opened as an acclaimed Broadway musical and the sorry tale of Roxie Hart blazed into the spotlight.

As relevant today as the day it was penned, Chicago is a film themed around seduction, passion, murder, corruption, fame and sex and has more than withstood the test of time. In this its latest adaptation, the gap between stage and screen is bridged so convincingly with the story and the musical
sequences erupting onto the silver screen with dynamic energy. The film flicks effortlessly back and forth between the harsh reality of 1920s Chicago and the bright glitz of Roxie's onstage musical imaginings. Brim-full of catchy show tunes delivered alongside saucy dance routines Chicago is a fusion of choreography, costume and production design and with an all-star cast to back it up, it can't go wrong.

Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) desperately wants to be a performer. But like her idol, Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) Chicago's promise of opportunity and adventure finds her in some pretty deep trouble. Condemned to prison until her trial, Roxie is under the watchful eye of Matron Morton (Queen Latifah) a corrupt prison warden who ensures her that top shot lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) is her only chance at freedom. Overnight, young Roxie is catapulted into popularity but her journey to fame is not all smooth sailing as Velma Kelly has anything to say about it.

Far from old-fashioned, Chicago takes the stodgy traditions of stage musicals and re-vamps them for its new contemporary audience. Created by the same trio who put the show to Broadway, musical veterans John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse have ensured that the film remains true to its theatrical form; forever respecting the values and conventions of the musical theatre genre. Yet whether on stage or screen the themes within Chicago still find an apt niche within modern day society- the blurry line between fame and notoriety, the sneaky tricks of courtroom corruption and the ruthlessness of the showbiz game- all timeless metaphors of desperation and infamy. Chicago is not a plastic Hollywood-isation of an untouchable classic- it merely offers it in a new way to a new audience. It's a toe-tapping good time and a thoroughly entertaining cinematic achievement.

Screening on general release.