Film Reviews

RENT (Bob)

By • Nov 23rd, 2005 •

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Columbia Pictures Revolution Studios presents in association with 1492 Pictures a Tribeca production
MPAA rating PG-13 / Running time — 135 minutes

‘Rent’, the Broadway musical, burst upon the New York theatre scene almost a decade ago. It is still drawing crowds, many of whom are repeat viewers. The storyline of ‘Rent’ finds its source in the 150-year-old ‘Scenes De la Vie de Boheme’ of Henri Murger, famously used as the basis of Puccini’s beloved opera La Boheme. Throughout the years the basic story has been set and reset in various cities and time periods.

Composer-writer-lyricist Jonathan Larson has used New York’s Alphabet City as the setting for his colorful mélange of young artists trying to make it while trading some genders of the basic characters and substituting HIV for TB as the fatal disease. His story is told in a pop-rock song score sung by white, black and Latino squatters, straights and gays, junkies, strippers and drag queens. Not your grandmother’s La Boheme, or your mother’s either. Yet it worked … fabulously. ‘Rent’ introduced to the Broadway theatre a whole new youthful audience and continues to do so.

Now we have RENT the movie adapted by director Chris Columbus. And it also works … fabulously. This is an energetic, thrilling movie musical. Almost all of the film is sung, one rousing song after another, by a terrific ensemble of talented performers. Most of the cast was recruited from the original Broadway show. Although this means they are much older than the characters were originally written, they fit into their roles like comfy well-worn gloves and bring a welcome naturalness to the performances. All are accomplished, but the notable standouts are Idina Menzel, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Anthony Rapp and an incredibly sensual Rosario Dawson as Mimi.

Columbus has opened up the show so that it soars and glides through the wonderfully expressive sets, yet retains an intimacy with the audience. The popular rock score advances the story and defines the characters perfectly. The constantly moving, shifting camera immerses the viewer within each scene, enabling the power of Larson’s lyrics to envelope and involve.

Broadway does not always transfer easily to film. In this case it does. I think Rent-heads will want to see the film version again and again as they have the Broadway show. The theme and message of this story are timeless. Should you see RENT on the big screen? Absolutely! RENT is totally entertaining … you’ll leave humming, and with a smile.

Director: Chris Columbus
Screenwriter: Steve Chbosky
Based on the play by: Jonathan Larson
Producers: Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro, Chris Columbus, Mark Radcliffe, Michael Barnathan Director of photography: Stephen Goldblatt Production designer: Howard Cummings
Music and lyrics: Jonathan Larson
Choreographer: Keith Young
Costumes: Aggie Guerard Rodgers
Editor: Richard Pearson

Mimi: Rosario Dawson
Benny: Taye Diggs
Angel: Wilson Jermaine Heredia
Tom: Jesse L. Martin
Maureen: Idina Menzel
Roger: Adam Pascal
Mark: Anthony Rapp
Joanne: Tracie Thoms

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One Response »

  1. Rent is one of those movies that captures you from the opening scene, to the closing scene. You’ll find yourself tapping your foot, smiling, laughing, and maybe even crying. Don’t worry, it’s okay to do any and all of these. When RENT came out in theaters, I went 3 times, minimum. When it came out on DVD, I bought a copy. Since that 1st copy, I’ve had to replace my copy about 7 times. All my friends have a copy courtesy of me. No hard feelings, though. But, now that The Final (Broadway) Performance is out… Well, they’re on their own. I highly recommend this movie, watch it with your family, friends, your significant other, or by yourself. You’ll come away feeling better about yourself. Or at least with a new perspective. There’s “no day, but today.”

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