Action / Drama / Musical / Romance

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 46%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 83%
IMDb Rating 6.8 10 53602

Plot summary

October 11, 2022 at 05:49 PM


Chris Columbus

Top cast

Rosario Dawson as Mimi Marquez
Sarah Silverman as Alexi Darling
Idina Menzel as Maureen Johnson
Penny Johnson Jerald as Bohemian
1.21 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 15 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by jotix100 7 / 10

Bohemians in Alphabet City

It's obvious this musical has an incredible fan base. That became evident when we saw the movie version the other day. There were a lot of young people in groups that came to see what director Chris Columbus did to the musical that is still running on Broadway after nine years. The screen adaptation is by Steve Chbosky.

"Rent", written and composed by Jonathan Larson, started as a small musical at the NY Theater Workshop and then was transferred to the Nederlander theater where it's still playing. The film has six of the original cast members in it, the exception being Freddie Walker who is substituted by Tracie Thoms and Daphne Rubin-Vega who was the original Mimi, a role that went to Rosario Dawson in the film.

This movie will definitely resonate with a younger audience. The music is targeted to them. This is a pop-rock opera and make no mistake about it. Don't go thinking you are going to find anything resembling Puccini's "La Boheme". The musical is extremely loosely based on the characters from the opera, but that's where all the comparison ends. The people one sees in the musical are more real because the pain of what is going on in their lives is clearly evident. The AIDS epidemic affects a few of the characters; there are gays and lesbians just being themselves without anyone judging what they do. At the bottom of it all is every day survival in that environment.

What "Rent" is, it's a celebration of the life on that side of New York during the 80's when anarchists populated the lower east side of Manhattan squatting in abandoned buildings and living precariously at the edge of a society that didn't want them around. The young people that were attracted to the area brought with them a new way of living without prejudice.

Alas, everything comes to an end. In fact, just a tour of the area today will show the gentrification that is taking place after Mayor Giuliani and his ilk got these bohemians evicted in order to give way to condominiums and new luxury dwellings where the people the movie celebrate will have no chance to live in them at all. This seems to be the problem when artists create spaces that later on are taken over by the establishment, only to displace the creators, as has happened in Soho, Dumbo, and will not be too far behind in displacing the Williamsburg's artistic settlers.

As a film, "Rent", has great moments. Even though one has heard the songs many times, there is still a fresh take on them by the talented cast that sing them. Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Wilson Jermaine-Heredia, Jesse Martin, Taye Diggs, Idina Menzel, Tracie Thoms and Rosario Dawson work as an ensemble under the direction of Mr. Columbus, who would have appeared as an unlikely candidate for directing the film, but who brings the best from his talented cast.

By the way, "Rent" was filmed in the west coast, so don't go looking for any authentic East Village locations, since most of what one sees was probably shot in a studio. The Horseshoe bar is shown on the outside, and a scene of Tompkins Square Park, but the rest is fake.

Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird 7 / 10

A solid musical adaptation, a few foibles here and there but when it's good it's great

Not the best film musical in the world but a long way from the worst. Is it as good as the stage show? Not quite, then again that is always a big ask, any musical deserves to stand on its own two feet and Rent certainly does that. Is it perfect? No, some of the last third does feel rushed, the direction in a couple of the musical numbers does have a slightly overblown music video quality that didn't fit with the rest and Benny's part is reduced so much to the point of being a caricature and he did seem too much of a plot device.

Is it good? Yes it definitely is, its best parts are actually great. On the most part it does look good, the costumes, lighting and sets are appropriately colourful and gritty, perfectly matching the atmosphere and story and the photography is mostly fine. The choreography has so much energy to the extent that in the upbeat numbers(especially La Vie Boheme) you're tapping your toes, Chris Columbus's direction is more than competent(at least he gives off the feeling that he had a good idea how to direct a musical, which is more than I can say for for example Richard Attenborough for A Chorus Line and Sidney Lumet for The Wiz, to me Annie gets too much undeserved hate) and the script is written amusingly at times, but mostly in a way that really resonates with the audiences emotionally.

Not everybody likes the story in Rent, but to me it does have shock value(if not as much as in the late 80s-early 90s) that is portrayed in a harrowing and heart-wrenching way. As an adaptation there is some tinkering like a few song cuts but I found it fairly faithful in spirit to the stage show. But the best component of Rent is easily the score, which is nothing short of brilliant. Sure it has songs that are better than others, then again that is common in musicals, but all range to uplifting to heartfelt, there is lots of energy but also a fair share of pathos. The performances are equally terrific, their characters are not as well fleshed out as the stage show but the cast look comfortable and do a good job in still making them believable.

Jesse L Martin's character has the most compelling story arc, and Martin sounds great and delivers with great emotion and spirit, it is very different to his role on Law and Order which is testament to how talented and versatile Martin is. Wilson Jermaine Heredia and Tracie Thoms are similarly great for similar reasons to Martin(Heredia also benefits from being a great dancer), and Rosario Dawson is heart-breaking especially in the latter part of the film. Adam Pascal is ever so slightly stiff in places but is incredibly emotive and his vocals don't disappoint either and Idina Menzel looks as though she is having so much fun even though Maureen is not very well developed here and her vocals are powerhouse quality. Taye Diggs is disadvantaged by what is done to Benny but does his best and is hardly a liability. In conclusion, solid stuff that could have been better. 7/10 Bethany Cox

Reviewed by SnoopyStyle 6 / 10

Broadway musical movie

It's Christmas Eve, 1989 New York East Village. Mark Cohen (Anthony Rapp) is an aspiring documentary filmmaker. His roommate Roger Davis (Adam Pascal) was a rock star but is now withdrawn, recovering-addict, and suffering from AIDS. Their former friend Benjamin Coffin III (Taye Diggs) married rich. He is trying to evict everybody and redeveloping the building. Maureen Johnson (Idina Menzel) has dumped Mark for new girlfriend Joanne Jefferson (Tracie Thoms) and organizing a rally against the evictions. Mimi Marquez (Rosario Dawson) is a burlesque dancer who falls for Roger but he is still struggling with many issues. Transvestite Angel Dumott Schunard (Wilson Jermaine Heredia) finds Tom Collins (Jesse L. Martin) beaten up in an alley. They are both afflicted with AIDS.

This is transferred from Broadway. As a musical, some of songs rock but most are forgettable. As a movie and as a story, this is kind of soapy. The characters feel very written. I see the characters rather as a take it or leave it proposition. I never got swept up in any of their stories but it is able to hold together. The actors are all solid. It is probably not my kind of material anyways.

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