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A movie directed by Chris Columbus

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Life, Love, & Death in New York City - L&M W/O

  • Feb 18, 2007
  • by
Pros: Great performances; Jesse L. Martin can sing!

Cons: Scattered; dance numbers could have been better.

The Bottom Line: Rent is good a Saturday night with friends when your first choice has been taken.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

I didn’t quite know what to expect when I sat down to watch Rent (2005); it was not what I expected. I have of course heard of the smash Pulitzer and Tony Award winning Broadway musical, but I knew little of its content.

Directed by Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), Rent follows the lives of a group of young Bohemians in the East Village of New York City, as they struggle with life, love (heterosexual & homosexual), poverty, and AIDS. The big screen adaptation is also a musical and features some very well written and performed original songs, but adequate choreography.

Most of the cast of Rent was plucked from the original Broadway musical, including Jesse L. Martin (Collins), Idina Menzel (Maureen), Taye Diggs (Benny), Wilson Jermaine Heredia (Angel), Adam Pacal (Roger), and Anthony Rapp (Mark). Only Rosario Dawson (Mimi) and Traci Thoms (Joanne) were not part of the original musical.

Rent takes place over a year, hence the opening number in which the cast sings "Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear/five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. How do you measure, measure a year?" It is a year in which one of them will die from AIDS; indeed three of the close-knit group of friends has the fatal disease, and that and other social ills seem to define their meager lives. All but Benny who has married up, but not out of the neighborhood.

Rent moved a long at a pretty brisk pace; there were certainly no overly boring moments in the film. The depiction of Bohemian live-style was somewhat scattered, but otherwise well represented, though strong character development was not this movie’s strong point.

The performances were mostly laudable; I especially enjoyed the various dance numbers, but I thought there should have been more of them; who knew Jesse L. Martin from Law & Order fame could sing and dance so well? There was no chemistry between Idina Menzel (Kissing Jessica Stein) and Traci Thoms (Cold Case) and it made their intimate moments seem largely forced, but individually both actresses turned in fine performances.

It has been pointed out--most recently by my wife--that Rent looks and feels dated. I'm not sure I agree, because like or not AIDS is not going away, as a matter of fact it making a much lauded comeback, especially in the inner-city in the gay community. As is heroin use; another theme of the movie. But Rent offered not real solutions to the problems; it only dealt with them in a detached high earth view despite the impact it had on the group of friend’s lives. There was not emotional attachment for me, and so I didn’t really invested in the character that died. Rent is not that sort of a movie’ it is a musical and should be viewed as such.

Rent is good a Saturday night with friends when your first choice has been taken.


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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More Rent reviews
Quick Tip by . August 04, 2010
posted in Music Matters
I have seen this show multiple times. Once with Niel Patrick Harris as Mark. It was awesome.
review by . May 12, 2009
Pros: music, cast, clear DVD detail     Cons: none for me     The Bottom Line:   I think they meant it  When they said you can't buy love  Now I know you can rent it  A new lease you are, my love  ~Jonathan Larson     I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to see when I started Rent but I had heard so much about it I figured it was going to be a good experience. I would imagine the …
review by . November 22, 2008
I watched this movie late last night   Watched it again today   I've never seen a better film   It took my breath away     Music, dancing, drama, love   The acting is intense   And when I reached the "tango" scene   I gave up all pretence     Towards the end I dropped my guard   I sobbed, and then I cried   The tears poured down upon my cheeks   And they would not subside …
review by . February 12, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: truly emotional performances, fantastic music, solid adaptation     Cons: It's only 2 hours long     The Bottom Line: Rent is one of the best movies of last year. Featuring fine music and wonderful performances, this is a must-see.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. Operas are a unique art form. Either you love them or hate them. And when they deal with controversial subject matter, that …
review by . February 22, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Having seen RENT on the stage with the eardrum assaulting, miked sound from each performer's head mike coupled with the small but deadly 'pit band' this viewer rented this film with trepidation. And after paying close attention to the transfer of the play to the screen little has change in feelings about this work.    Loosely based on Puccini's 'La Boheme' (with some direct quotes in the score) this musical drama has much to say about AIDS, kids as artists, survival, all forms …
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Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #188
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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About this movie


Rent, the show that in 1996 gave voice to a Broadway generation, has finally become an energetic, passionate, and touching movie musical. Based loosely on Puccini'sLa Bohème, it focuses on the year in the life of a group of friends in New York's East Village--"bohemians" who live carefree lives of art, music, sex, and drugs. Well, carefree until Mark, an aspiring filmmaker (Anthony Rapp), and Roger, an aspiring songwriter (Adam Pascal), find out they owe a year's rent to Benny (Taye Diggs), a former friend who had promised them free residence when he married the landlord's daughter. Roger has also attracted the attention of his downstairs neighbor, Mimi (Rosario Dawson), while Mark's former girlfriend, Maureen (Idina Menzel), has found a new romance in a lawyer named Joanne (Tracie Thoms). Philosophy professor Tom (Jesse L. Martin) finds his soul mate in drag queen Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia). But because this is the late-'80s, the threat of AIDS is always present.
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