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Overall Rating
3.19

Awesome37.76%
Worth A Look: 6.12%
Average: 12.24%
Pretty Bad: 25.51%
Total Crap: 18.37%

7 reviews, 56 user ratings



Rent
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by brianorndorf

"A beautiful adaptation of a tricky musical"
5 stars

After enjoying a vast history of Broadway and critical acclaim, along with a few years basking in the pop culture sun, “Rent” finally makes its way to the big screen. An unlikely choice for a director, Chris Columbus somehow manages to crack open the tricky emotional content of the material, and expertly captures the heart and soul of Jonathan Larson’s beloved creation.

The year is 1989, and a group of bohemian artists and addicts are living in New York’s East Village spending their days chasing dreams and confronting harsh realities. Roger (Adam Pascal) is a frustrated rock singer facing a bleak future with AIDS and a romantic interest in drug addict Mimi (Rosario Dawson). Mark (Anthony Rapp) is a struggling filmmaker, looking to get over his relationship with performance artist Maureen (Idina Menzel), who left him for a female lawyer (Tracie Thoms). And Tom (Jesse L. Martin) is caring for his lover Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia), while watching him slowly die of AIDS. Confronted by one of their own (Taye Diggs), who wants to refurbish the area into a high-tech, upscale studio, the group spends the year suffering through life experiences, hoping to find their own place in the world, trying to sustain the warmth they find in each other’s company.

Filmmakers as diverse as Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee have set their sights on adapting Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, “Rent,” but could never get it off the ground. I considered it a huge surprise to see Chris Columbus, a man known for decidedly more fantastical fare (“Home Alone,” the first two “Harry Potter” films), slip quietly into the director’s chair and craft one of the best pictures of the year.

While there’s no doubt about Columbus’s talents, “Rent” isn’t material he normally gravitates to. Already a venerated Broadway musical, with fans all over the globe, “Rent” was thought over the years to be the ultimate unfilmable movie: the brass ring of pop musical adaptations. Other filmmakers would’ve tried to stamp their own scent all over the screen, yet Columbus knows exactly how to crack open this material: minimally. He strips down Larson’s work to the essentials, building it back up again in engaging ways that file down the sharp edges of the play’s notoriously dated setting, as well as inserting opportunities for the scenes to step out of their theatrical origins and embrace the New York East Village scenery, creating a much more multihued world than the stage allows.

In a more controversial choice, Columbus has brought in superstar producer Rob Cavallo to update the songs for the big screen. Those who have burned out their Broadway cast album over the years might be surprised to hear Cavallo up the tempo and depth of Larson’s wonderful rock songs, and remove a small portion of the music to help fit the framework of the movie. The changes work, especially ditching the lukewarm safe sex song, “Contact,” and the new arrangements make the music feel alive again. While the majority of the cast simply reprise their roles from Broadway, they are able to renew their ownership of these tunes through heartfelt renderings, especially the touching performances from Anthony Rapp, Jesse L. Martin, and Adam Pascal. Newcomer Rosario Dawson acquits herself memorably to Larson’s world in the important role of Mimi, lending the character the sexual heat and sweaty drug desperation that is lost on the stage, along with respectable pipes that aren’t drowned out by the theatrical pros.

“Rent” is an emotional experience, capturing the distress and gloom of the late-80s AIDS era. On stage, Larson’s book created the urgent feeling of friendship and the desolation of loss, but required the audience to meet the musical halfway. The reason the film version of “Rent” is so successful is found in the intimacy Columbus creates with the community of artists. Able to get his camera close to faces, the expressions and passion ring louder, enhancing the immediacy of the songs and the teamwork between the actors. Any distance the stage version of “Rent” might’ve created for some viewers is gone here, and the benefits are almost too numerous to list.

Larson’s original tale of love and woe was a thrilling experience, but through Columbus’s eyes, “Rent” is beautiful, passionate, toe tapping, stirring, and reflective, following the lead set by the Broadway show and taking it to even greater heights.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=13515&reviewer=404
originally posted: 11/23/05 15:36:36
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User Comments

4/03/14 Toni Let's play How Many Times Can Rent Make You Cringe. I've lost count 1 stars
9/19/13 Annie G I feel like I saw a different film than the reviewer - not too bad. 3 stars
11/19/12 Meredith B Beautiful version of the Broadway play! 5 stars
11/23/09 Jeff Wilder Good overall. But duplicates play rather than translates it into a cinematic form. 3 stars
11/19/08 Rachel wtf is with you haters? this movie is amazing, I cried at the funeral! 5 stars
4/28/08 Not too bad 1/2 of people who loved the movie here launched ad-hominem attacks on those who didn't. 3 stars
10/24/07 Ivana Mann This musical bites.Pure & simple.It's like an opera written by Beyonce.Utter poo! 1 stars
6/15/07 Danielle Ophelia Is it relevant? Yes. Is it worth your time? Probably not. 2 stars
4/18/07 David Pollastrini it was better on stage 3 stars
4/13/07 Anikka If you aren't mature and open enough to understand this movie don't watch it. It's amazing. 5 stars
4/02/07 marg Worst. Film. Wver. 1 stars
2/26/07 Loryn This is so off base it don't even merit a comment... 5 stars
2/21/07 johnnyfog Really clumsy in the beginning, but the material shines through enough to be alright 4 stars
2/13/07 Jenny RENT is amazing. You must be insane or so closed minded to have it not inspire you. 5 stars
12/26/06 johnnyfog I may be biased but Rosario's a goddess. Well she IS! 5 stars
11/28/06 venessa i think it was a nice play coverin a wide range of social issues.i didnt un/stand some part 5 stars
11/04/06 Reena Saw the play, it kicked ass, the movie... not so much, but still good. 4 stars
11/03/06 Pam My favorite movie! I dont know how people can hate it! 5 stars
10/17/06 ali absolutely amazing!! story line is heartfelt and moving! 5 stars
10/03/06 amityjo Saw the play. Hated it. Saw the movie. Hated it more. 1 stars
8/22/06 Alicia amazing, i absolutely loved it! 5 stars
7/30/06 Parker L this reviewer is a completely soulless jerk. this movie is moving as the show 5 stars
7/24/06 Constantine Mantelo Excruciating!!! (And that comes from someone who loves musicals) 1 stars
7/04/06 Evil Wolfie A good message, but unbearably bad music and lyrics. 2 stars
5/23/06 Sophia D. It was one of the BEST movies i EVER saw. I absolutely loved it and i love to sing to it. 5 stars
5/21/06 Angelluver People who don't like RENT are either too stupid or too miserable to enjoy it. 5 stars
5/08/06 Diane Perkins Loved this movie so much. Every actors performance flawless 5 stars
4/01/06 mela the best movie-musical i've seen since chicago 5 stars
3/24/06 Epi I love rent, and this loser critic doesn't know anything... 5 stars
2/20/06 Perry Mason The songs are just laughably bad. Almost as bad as an Andrew Lloyd Webber production. 1 stars
1/30/06 Andrew the film was excellent 5 stars
1/18/06 al thought the cast was great,dont care how old they are 4 stars
1/17/06 ella as a recovering "renthead", this movie was a terrible dissapointment 2 stars
1/04/06 Piz Jumps around a lot but for a musical-turned-movie it wasn't horrible. 3 stars
12/18/05 kasey I went to see it twice, I loved it so much! Must go with an open mind to enjoy it. 5 stars
12/12/05 Bill Stunning ensemble performances; those who don't get it are missing a gene from the pool 5 stars
12/09/05 Amy A whole lot of music, movement, dance, drama and angst in this movie. I'd see it again! 5 stars
12/05/05 Eric His name is Mark not Matt. It's like you didnt even pay attention. 5 stars
12/04/05 BrianWilly Heartfelt and beautiful 5 stars
12/04/05 Erica You must be open minded to enjoy this show!! Amazing and breathtaking!!! Loved it! 5 stars
12/04/05 Kelly Absolutely stunning! Worth a second see! 5 stars
12/02/05 John Ford Other than the opening number, this movie really blows. It's hard to follow the characters 1 stars
11/30/05 joey squids stupidest movie i ever saw....i walked out after an hour 1 stars
11/30/05 John Linton Roberson Everything I hated about my early twenties combined in one film. Oh joy. 1 stars
11/29/05 Zari Lopez I think the criticisms for the musical are unwarranted. The movie, acceptable. 4 stars
11/29/05 Jim Dude, you bust the film but get the characters wrong....MARK, not MATT 4 stars
11/28/05 Governor11201 Fame! + AIDS = CRAP 1 stars
11/28/05 Grandma Mil The best: Tango Maureen.Like La Boheme? You've got to be kidding! 2 stars
11/28/05 G Far better than any Chris Columbus film has a right to be. 4 stars
11/26/05 avoidance It's true, EVERYONE in New York has AIDS. 2 stars
11/26/05 hoosierpeach Moving, delightful, STILL Relevant Still TRUE 5 stars
11/26/05 Will Goody Juvenile and Dated 1 stars
11/25/05 baseball-nut Save your money! 2 stars
11/25/05 Jon Leonoudakis A hollow, soul-less take that lacks the grit and heart of the musical. 3 stars
11/24/05 hibbyX Rosario Dawson is ugly. There, I said it. 1 stars
11/24/05 kokoro its XANADU for grad students 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  23-Nov-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 21-Feb-2006

UK
  07-Apr-2006

Australia
  02-Mar-2006




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