many bells down

No day but today
February 22, 2006, 7:01 pm
Filed under: Movies, Music, Reviews

rentYesterday during my lunch break I picked up the two-disc special edition of Rent.  The movie (which is based on the incredibly successful Broadway show of the same name) follows a group of friends as they deal with AIDS, love, friendship and poverty in 1980s New York City.

I wasn’t thrilled with the film when I saw it in theaters.  I had a harder time emotionally connecting with the film than I did with the musical – which is odd because you’re more able to see actors’ facial expressions in a film than on stage, which should make it more emotionally accessible.  Part of it may have been that I was bitter becasue director Chris Columbus (Harry Potter, Home Alone) cut “Halloween” and the second half of “Goodbye Love,” two of the most emotionally intense numbers in the stage show, out of the movie.  And don’t even get me started on Rosario Dawson’s voice.  I think a lot was lost in translation, which is a shame because Rent is an incredibly moving story with an important message:  Live life to the fullest.  Love while you’ve got the time.  Cherish the people in your life.  “No day but today.”

The DVD is worth buying for the special features alone.  There is commentary on the film itself by director Chris Columbus as well as deleted scenes (including the “Halloween” and the continuation of “Goodbye Love,” which I would have loved to see in the context of the film) with commentary by Columbus, Anthony Rapp (Mark) and Adam Pascal (Roger).  But the hands-down best part is the poignant 2+ hour documentary on Jonathan Larson, the composer of Rent.  The documentary, which is heavy on interviews from original Broadway cast members, Larson’s family and friends and rare pictures, audition tapes and performances, gives the viewer a complete look at Larson’s life, including his death (he died of an aortic aneurysm the night before Rent premiered at the New York Theatre Workshop) and the impact it had on Rent.  Larson’s dedication to the musical and his friend’s and family dedication to him and to his talent are so moving that I cried like a little girl.  (But, to be fair, I also cried at the end of Cheaper by the Dozen, so…)

Despite its serious subject matter, Rent, in the end, is about hope.  And even though I wasn’t very happy with some aspects the movie, that still rang true for me.

If you’re a fan of Rent‘s music, I would definitely recommend buying the soundtrack!  Despite Rosario Dawson’s annoying habit of drawing out her R’s and S’s and the whining she calls her upper register, I still love it.


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