Which got my heartrate up higher today, interval training at the gym or walking home after seeing Rent?
Rent ranks right up there with Jesus Christ Superstar near the top of the “Musicals to sing while driving on I-5” list. I’ve seen it on the stage (once) and know the cast album inside and out. So when I heard they were making a movie of the show I knew it would be like every other movie they’ve ever made of something I love: it would suck.
With such expectations I entered the theatre. And for a while it looked as though my expectations would be fully met. After seeing the first couple of scenes it was incomprehensible to me how anyone unfamiliar with the original show could possibly know what was going on. The introductory plot ended up as a patchwork which was difficult even for me to follow.
That wore off eventually as I allowed myself to stop judging the show and just enjoy it. Absolutely no attempt is made to hide the fact that this was a Broadway production. This is not one of those movie musicals (ahem, Oklahoma) where people randomly break into song in the middle of an otherwise passable piece of dialog. That’s because there is very little dialog at all in this movie. Most of what transpires does so through the songs with only the most minimal amount of speaking in order to transition between actions and songs.
If you do not like musicals at all, please avoid this show at all costs. This is not going to be the movie at which you have an epiphany, suddenly realizing how wrong you’ve been all your life and how fantastic musicals are. However, if you enjoy emotionally charged performances then go buy your ticket now. Very few stops remained in place by the end of the movie. I don’t think I’ve ever left a movie bearing such a desperate need for catharsis. My reaction, however, is most likely deeply rooted in my pre-existing affinity for the show.
Normally when I see a movie based upon a book or other work with which I’m familiar I resent any change from the original. This time however there was one change I was very much hoping would be made, that being to lose the cheesy schmaltzy sappy diabetically sweet ending. No disrespect meant to the dead, but Jonathan Larson, may you rest in peace, you done us wrong. Throw all that reality in our faces for the entire show, then pull a stunt like that? It cheapens the entire endeavor.
Overall, I’d have to say that I liked it. And how long has it been since many of you have heard me say that about a movie?