Back Rowe Reviews
Real Time Movie Reviews from the Back Row of a Theater

Rent (PG-13)

Directed by: Chris Columbus
Starring: Taye Diggs
November 2005

“525,600 Reasons to Love This Multifaceted Musical”

Based on Puccini’s opera “La Boheme” and Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer and Tony award-winning musical, Rent, which follows the lives of a group of friends in N.Y.C. over the course of one year, has finally made its way to the big screen. Many members of the original Broadway cast appear here, including show-stoppers Anthony Rapp (A Beautiful Mind) and Idina Menzel (“Wicked”).

The movie is a rock opera that focuses on the various aspects of struggle—the struggle to find love and acceptance, the struggle to overcome prejudice and loss and the struggle to make rent while trying to stay warm in a drafty East Villiage flat during the frigid winter months. Interspersed among the exceptional musical numbers are dramatic vignettes involving some very human, and therefore, very messed up characters. Take roommates Mark (Rapp) and Roger (Adam Pascal), for example. Mark is an aspiring movie director, whose ex-girlfriend, Maureen (Menzel), left him for another woman. Roger is numb from a recent loss and has a hard time opening up and letting anyone into his wounded heart. African American computer whiz, Tom Collins (Jesse L. Martin), faces the bitter reality that his cross-dressing lover, Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia), will soon die of A.I.D.S.

Though some of the subject matter is unabashedly adult in tone and content,
Rent is an excellent window into the turbulent realities of inner-city life. Director, Chris Columbus, who’s known more for his family-friendly fare (Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire), stays true to the overall feel of the play, while skillfully translating it to the silver screen. Borrowing talent from the Broadway musical was a stroke of genius by the casting department—chemistry is hard to manufacture and the Rent ensemble is simply astounding. Besides the exceptional vocal performances, the movie also boasts brilliantly choreographed sequences, which really amp up the movie’s frequently somber storyline.

When all is said and done, the opening number “Seasons of Love,” by itself, is worth the price of admission. So, if you didn’t get a chance to see the movie in the theater, you owe it to yourself to go out and
Rent it.

Rating: 3