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Wednesday, November 30, 2005


In the last few months, one could say that I was a tad excited about the release of the film version of Rent. For my fellow Rent-heads who have been following the countdown to the film's premiere via my posts...a review of the film from your truly is inevitable. Needless to say, I've been just a little bit busy with Turkey Day and all, but I finally decided to sit down and post my thoughts on the film.

Let me start off by saying that Rent was pretty much exactly what I thought it would be. I wanted to know exactly what I would be walking into when I saw the film, so I kept up with the progress of the film via the Rent blog. I was interested to see just how close to the stage version Chris Columbus would direct this film while trying to remain true to Jonathan Larson's vision. Without a doubt, I think Columbus absolutely did that and I hope Larson would have been pleased with the final results. My fear was that the film would turn into an over produced film with less emphasis on the story and the music. In my wildest dreams, I was hoping I would leave the movie theater with the same elation as I did following Chicago versus the disgust after having seen The Phantom of the Opera.


  • I loved that the film opened with the cast singing Seasons of Love on a stage in an empty auditorium. Though Seasons of Love opened the second act in the stage version, I thought that this move set the stage for the film which helped get the audience in the mindset of the what Rent was all about.
  • The performance of the film's title song was the most dyanmic, feet stomping, exciting number in the film. To see what Columbus did with this visually was amazing. I had no idea that "rent" affected an entire neighborhood and not just Mark & Rodger (something that wasn't so clear in the stage version). Seeing this, set the stage for what I thought would be an equally dynamic and exciting film.

  • La Vie Boheme was the exciting end to Act I in the stage version. There is something about the entire cast on stage dancing on a stainless steel table singing La Vie Boheme that wasn't as infectious in the film version.

  • Idina Menzel as Maureen (particularly in Over the Moon) was great! She did a great job making this piece more humorous and effective overall. In the past the Maureens I've seen in the touring stage versions were dull and didn't make this number as fun as it should be. I knew Maureen could be a fun character with potential depth. In such a short amount of time, this just couldn't happen. That's ok...Idina was amazing nonetheless in every scene she was in. I predict big things for her.

  • Seeing 6 of the 8 original Broadway cast members (all but the superb Rosario Dawson -- Mimi and fabulous Tracie Thoms -- Joanne) reprising their roles (which is virtually unheard of) was to me, one of the best aspects of this film. These 6 people were with the show from Off-Broadway to Broadway...knew Larson on some level...were the true heart and souls of their respective characters. The spirit of the film would have changed had the entire cast been new. BTW, Nobody does Mark better than Anthony Rapp (sorry, NPH).

  • Due to the fact that Columbus has never directed a musical, moving from scene to scene after a musical number felt extremely disjointed and choppy. I almost felt like I wasn't ready for each scene to be over when we were suddenly thrust into the next one.

  • Out Tonight wasn't as dynamic as it could have been. It was a tad all over the place. Not a huge annoyance but definitely not one of the high points.

  • The Santa Fe number went from a fantasy idea between Collins, Angel, Mark and Roger turned into a cheesy dancing foray on the F Train.
  • Everytime I've seen (or even heard) Will I (the song sung in rounds during the Life Suport meetings: Will I loose my dignity/will someone care/will I wake tomorrow/from this nightmare?) I have a tendency to feel emotional and sometimes tear up. Not so much this time around.

  • I'll Cover You was too obvious, too easy...kinda lame. Angel and Collins go frolicking through the city...Angel buys Collins a leather jacket to represent "I'll Cover You." Too easy if you ask me...and too...cheesy. It was a little too C&H sugary for me. On the flip side, it's obvious that Angel & Collins' portrayers, Wilson Jermaine Heredia & Jesse L. Martin (respectively) have obvious chemistry that is as strong as it was 10 years ago.

  • The end. Though I know this show backwards and forwards, the end to the film...was weak. I'll leave it at that so I don't spoil it for anyone who has yet to see it (and cares) and has stumbled upon this entry.

When all is said and done, I will still gladly support this I've stated before in past blog entries, I am a huge supporter of Jonathan Larson. I relate to his enthusiasm and drive to make a difference by believing so strongly in his work. When I feel my enthusiasm beginning to wane, I often times think of Jonathan Larson for inspiration. What he wanted was to affect the future of the modern musical...and he has done that. His work has touched the lives of so many people worldwide. I hope he is happy with what has happened to his most prolific musical.


Mitch Glaser said...

Seeing "Rent" was a new experience for me because I'd never seen a musical on stage or on screen before. I enjoyed it very much.

Though I am not nearly as knowledgeable about such things, I generally concurr with your comprehensive review of the film and its high and low points. I'm glad that you weren't disappointed.

While it is quite unfortunate that Jonathan Larson didn't live to see the success of "Rent" and its positive effect on the evolution of musical theatre, I agree that his story is an inspiration to all of us.

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