(2005, 135 min)
Director: Chris Columbus
Jonathan Larson's award-winning Broadway musical comes to the big screen
in this story of a group of friends living in New York's East Village,
all confronted with the realities of urban living including homelessness, drug abuse and AIDS.
It became a part of Broadway folklore when writer-composer Jonathan Larson passed away just before
the opening of his musical "Rent." The show, of course, went on to win multiple Tony Awards,
not to mention speaking to a younger generation in musical terms. The film version, starring most
of the original cast, arrives nearly ten years later; a little older and slightly more dated,
but retaining the emotion and power that has made it one of Broadway's longest-running shows.
A musical about AIDS and homelessness wouldn't, at first, appear to be the stuff of theatrical legend.
But Larson's melodic, rock-flavored score and gallery of beguiling characters -- many of them living
in a lower East Side tenement -- set the stage for a one-of-a-kind entertainment. Among them are roommates
Mark (Rapp), an aspiring filmmaker, and Roger (Pascal), a songwriter who has AIDS; their neighbor Mimi (Dawson),
who is attracted to Roger; their friend Tom Collins (Martin), who also is HIV-positive, and Tom's
drag queen lover Angel (Heredia); and Mark's lesbian ex-girlfriend Maureen (Menzel) and her current
lover Joanne (Thoms). How their lives intersect through love, friendship and song forms the core of Rent,
a time capsule that nevertheless engages as each person learns that there is -- as one of its more famous
songs suggests -- "no day like today." Look past the fact that these actors are at least a decade older than
their characters, or the loss of a theatrical intimacy, and enjoy this energetic adaptation of a theatrical
-- David Bleiler