Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Special entry.... "Rent" (the film)

We interrupt your regular spring break programming to bring you the following film review.

Erin has been after me to watch Rent. We started it when she was here last week, and I finally finished watching it today.

The verdict? Thumbs-up, with some qualifications.

First, the music was really good, and the performers were excellent, except that I didn't really like the voice of the guitar-playing loft-dweller who pairs up with Rosario Dawson (can't remember his name--I'm bad with names--sue me). His voice seemed a lot more lightweight that the rest of the cast, and it stuck out.

Second—and I said this to Erin last week—when the film was over, I wasn’t really sure what it was about. Today, after it finished, I went back and watched the opening scene—the one on stage—again, and I think I “got” that it was about a year in the life of friends. Okay, I can be good with that. Except that it seemed to be doing so much social commentary—on AIDS, gentrification, the plight of the homeless, gender issues, etc.—that I wasn’t sure it knew what it wanted to be.

Third, I felt as if the story was a little disjointed, as if the story line was there to support the music, rather than the music lending background to the story.

These were minor complaints, though, in terms of enjoying the film. There were some terribly poignant moments, as when the people slowly vanish from the AIDS support group circle, or the moments in Angel’s hospital room. Big sniff. The diner scene was hilarious—‘loved the homage to Pee Wee Herman.

I thought the Taye Diggs—Benny—character was awkward, and seemed completely unnecessary. The whole thing with the gentrification and foreclosure could have been implied without having him even be there. Every time he entered a scene and was given any lines, the action instantly turned clunky. I also had trouble sympathizing with some of the character’s actions. Too much mother in me, perhaps, but when they’re using drugs or wandering around dark streets or the like, I just wanted to slap them upside the head and yell, “C’mon, straighten up!” To be fair, I missed my own Bohemian phase—went right from high school to a nursing career, marriage, children, and a house in a matter of 4 years. Yikes.

I agree with Erin on her choice of husband from the cast. (Good one, Baby!) (And no one puts Baby in the corner!)

I haven’t seen this on stage, but having seen the film, and knowing that it came from a stage production, I’m about a gazillion percent sure that the theater production would beat the film. A production like this just cries out to have an audience around it.

That said, I enjoyed it, shed a tear at the funeral scene (not at the end—with Mimi’s resurrection—which seemed very contrived) and then I went and, for the first time, activated my iTunes Music Store so that I could download “Life Support” and “Seasons of Love.”

Erin, thanks for having me watch! Is that a good enough report?


Rebecca said...

Glad to hear that you semi-sort-of didn't hate it! I'm sure that you would enjoy the stage production a great deal better.

Erin Pez said...

Yes, that's a good report.

Yes, it IS about a year in the life of friends! All the stuff with AIDS and the like... you have to remember that when the guy wrote it, he drew his inspiration from his surroundings, and at the time AIDS was really breaking on to the scene.

And yes, the Benny character is somewhat annoying the movie. You need to also remember that the broadway production has some VERY big differences, Benny's character being one of them. His character in the broadway version is significant, his character in the movie, like you said, is pretty much un-necassary.

And yes, my boyfriend is amazing. I'm very proud of him.

Erin Pez said...

PS... since you skipped your Bohemeian phase and haven't had the pleasure of being surrounded by music/theatre people for mucho amounts of time, allow me to educate you and tell you that homelessness and gender issues are what they thrive off of!

(To anyone that is reading this, hopefully you know me well enough to know that I don't hold stereotypes... but... yeah...)

Moonwriter said...

Thanks for the feedback. Rebecca, I liked it-- not even close to not hating it! (grin) I just felt obliged to get analytical, since Erin wasn't here to discuss it with. I obviously don't know much about the film's background, writers, etc., so I can't come up with the same take as youze guyz who know the backstory, have seen the theater version, etc.

Although post-high school Bohemian phase was missed, I did hang out with the music and drama group in HS, and it was sort of a Bohemian group-in-training, although without AIDS or drugs, thankfully.

Katie said...

I agree with a lot of what you said Mom. I didn't LOVE the movie but I definitely liked it.