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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Chicago (2002)



Reviews and Comments

Chicago, a filmed version of the Broadway play, is great fun, especially for lovers of jazz. The acting is superb, the writing clever, and practically every number is a showstopper. On top of all that, it's beautiful to look at.

Its only problem is a big one, unfortunately. Director Rob Marshall makes the critical mistake of assuming that fast cuts are required to keep the energy level going. Instead of trusting the performances, he undermines them: by cutting so frequently, the impact of the dancing is dampened. It's clear enough that the choreography is fantastic: why distract from it with disorienting editing? Perhaps Chicago took a cue from Moulin Rouge!, which cuts even more. But Moulin Rouge! worked -- brilliantly -- perhaps because it was more about emotion than dance. I have not seen Chicago on the stage, but I imagine it would be the better way to see it.

But I don't want to come down too hard on the film. It is still a joy to behold; the energy of the performances and the music is something close to amazing, and it's more than a little funny. I left the theater with a smile on my face and a tune or three in my head.