Rent - Even Columbus Can't Spoil Rent
| Finally, Jonathon Larson’s masterpiece, the musical Rent, is brought to vivid life on the big screen. The songs are staged in a real live breathing New York. The emotion of this prize winning drama is in full Technicolor.
Imagine what Rent could have been if a talented director had got his hands on it.
Chris Columbus, whose pedantic approach almost sunk the first two Harry Potter movies, almost sinks the film version of Rent. However, the power of this piece survives despite his bumbling.
Rent starts out a little shaky but soon finds it grooves. We are dealing with what is possibly the best musical to come off the great white way in two or three decades. The power of this story and music makes any telling of Rent worth seeing.
However, Columbus can’t grasp the revolutionary power of this piece. Instead he tries to turn it into a very conventional musical. Despite his clumsy approach, the musical survives and even thrives. Numbers like “La Vie Boheme,” “Tango Maureen” and “I’ll Cover You” are beautiful on the screen. Some are less fortunate but most of the songs are wonderfully reproduced.
There is a distinct and obvious difference between those actors with screen experience, like Anthony Rapp, Tye Diggs and Jesse Martin and those without like the horrible Anthony Pascal who couldn’t be more wooden… except when he’s being so terribly over the top. His little attempts to be a rock star are so wrong.
The star of the show happens to be Rosario Dawson who, after numerous throw away roles has finally got the part that shows off her incredible talent. She is a big improvement over the Mimi of the Original Broadway Cast and makes her screen partner, Pascal, seem like an amateur. She’s sexy and damaged and liberated all at once. If there is an Oscar in the movie it’s for her.
Rent, in the end, is too safe. This isn’t a safe story and never should have been. If a real director had made this film it could have been the best film of the year. As it stands, despite Columbus, it manages to be only one of the best times in the theatre you’ll have all year. Still, there is a part of me that imagines what it could have been.
One last little word about Broadway purists (a variation on those who are novel purists): Get over it. It’s a movie. The additional scenes with Sarah Silverman and the Lesbian Wedding add to the experience.
Another last little word to those who don’t like musicals: Get over yourself! Not liking actors singing in musicals is like not liking actors making jokes in comedies, car chases in action movies, blood in horror movies or sex in porn. You’re missing the whole point, and missing out on a whole genre of great movies.