out of Five
Running time: 135
An energetic, impressively staged production but it quickly outstays its welcome once the novelty wears off.
What’s it all about?
Set in New York’s East Village during Christmas 1989, Rent stars Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal as Mark and Roger, two artistic bohemian types who are about to be evicted from their Manhattan loft by their landlord and former friend, Benny (Taye Diggs), for not paying their rent for a year. This is particularly inconvenient for Roger as he’s just started to notice the sexy dancer, Mimi (Rosario Dawson), who lives downstairs.
The film takes place over a year, detailing the pressures on Mark, Roger, Mimi and their friends, as they struggle with issues of poverty, art versus commerce and the AIDS epidemic.
Inspired by Puccini’s classic opera La Boheme and memorably spoofed in Team America, Rent is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway production by Jonathon Larson. It’s directed by Christopher Mrs Doubtfire
Columbus and stars the original cast members, plus Dawson and Thoms.
The film is extremely faithful to the stage show but Columbus pushes the action off the stage and into the streets, imaginatively staging musical numbers in restaurants, support groups and even on the back of a bicycle. Unsurprisingly, the cast really throw themselves into the production, belting out the numbers and leaping around like their lives depended on it.
How much you enjoy Rent is largely going to depend on your tolerance for musical theatre. At a certain point the film starts to become faintly ridiculous and, at two and a quarter hours the film definitely outstays its welcome (the song 525,600 minutes
could just as easily be about the film’s running time).
In short, fans of the original stage production won’t be disappointed, but as a film it’s frequently tedious and way too long.