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Based on the Bob Fosse musical set in the 1930's, it tells the story of Roxy Hart (Renee Zellweger), who shoots her boyfriend and is sent to jail. There, she meets Velma Kelley (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a former stage personality who also shot her husband and her sister (her husband was having an affair with her sister), and eventually recruits the media-hound lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) who tries to pull an O.J. and get her free. Singing, music, and dancing abound.

What I Thought

First of all, if you don't like musicals, don't see this movie. Some of the frantic camerawork is reminiscent of Moulin Rouge!, but the similarities end there.

The musical really has two modes: the acting with real scenery, etc., and the musical part where we cut to a stage. We go back and forth between these two modes. What's interesting is that sometimes in the middle of the music, we peek at how it looks like in the "real world". So during the WONDERFUL "He Had It Coming" number, where 5 women sing and dance about how their husbands/boyfriends deserved to be killed, we cut to the real world where each woman is simply telling Roxy her story. Wonderfully done! But you see what I'm talking about, no "in place" singing like in Moulin Rouge!, all the music happens on stage, usually announced by an emcee.

Very good lighting and costuming. Don't expect any flash, the original musical had costumes only in either black or white, so the movie is already flashier than the musical. Very toned down, with the stage-mode usually being just a black stage with some simple elements.

The acting is very good, the three principals are wonderful, as well as an amazing performance by John C. Reilly as Amos, Roxy's jilted and invisible husband. Richard Gere is also pretty funny as the glory-hound.

As to the singing, if you're blaming Moulin Rouge! for convincing actors & actresses to sing in a movie, that's a GOOD thing. Remember the times when Elvis, Sinatra, Dean Martin, Fred Astaire etc, sang/danced AND acted? Well, maybe not Elvis... Clambake, anyone?

Anyway, I'm constantly surprised by our actresses. Zellweger and Zeta-Jones are excellent as the two leads, Zellweger gives a great performance with her semi-mousy voice. And Zeta-Jones is a wonderful dancer! She came from dancing, and it shows. The other standout is again John C. Reilly who does an amazing "Mr. Cellophane". I was mesmerized by his performance.

The only disappointment is Richard Gere in the vocal department. Luckily, his voice is heavily produced and boosted, but you know it. Don't give up your day job, Dick. I wonder if anyone calls him that. I heard that people call Robert DeNiro "Bob" and "Bobby" instead of "Sir". Left me all traumatized.

To sum up, wonderful wonderful movie version of a good musical. Not for children, the elderly, or gerbils, because of the violence at the beginning (the musical IS about murder, after all) and, well, Richard Gere, but I highly recommend it to everyone else.


All photos and text copyright Ryszard Kilarski, unless otherwise noted. Clip art, drawings, paintings are either free domain or copyrighted by the artists.