a/perture cinema, the Official Movie Sponsor of The Less Desirables, presents The Less Desirables Movie of the Week, Rent (2005), starring Taye Diggs, Idina Menzel, Rosario Dawson and Jesse L. Martin.
Per IMDb: “This is the film version of the Pulitzer and Tony Award winning musical about Bohemians in the East Village of New York City struggling with life, love and AIDS, and the impacts they have on America.”
What IMDb should have said is “this is the weird-arsed-oddly-sung-Broadway-version of the Pulitzer and Tony Award winning musical about Bohemians…” I love the music and the story of Rent the Broadway production. Much of that is the same here but there’s something that is a bit “off” here. I don’t recall the singing to be so “matter-of-fact” and caution thrown to the wind about the accuracy of key in the stage version.
Benny (Diggs) is the landlord and former roommate of Mark (Anthony Rapp) and Roger (Adam Pascal). Benny obtained the place because of his marriage and his father-in-law. He’s given Mark and Roger free rent over the past year, but because their other former roommate, and Mark’s former girlfriend, Maureen (Menzel), a performance artist, is planning a protest for the plans Benny and his father-in-law have for the street and buildings around their apartment, he’s evicting them.
Mark is a filmmaker making a documentary on people living with HIV/AIDS. Roger is an HIV-positive recovering drug addict. He’s the subject of stripper Mimi’s (Dawson) attention; she’s also HIV-positive. Maureen left Mark for Joanne (Tracie Thoms), a Harvard-graduate lawyer. Their friend, Tom Collins (Martin) is an anarchist, gay and is a former-philosophy professor with AIDS. He’s also another former roommate of the gang. He falls in love with Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia), a street performer drag queen who also has AIDS.
The protest happens, a near-riot ensues and the police break up the party while Benny and his backers (in-laws) are there. They all end up at a bar/restaurant, even Benny and his people. Mimi and Roger get close.
Fast forward to New Years. Benny has padlocked them out of their apartment but Angel breaks the lock with a trashcan. The loft is empty, Benny taking all their stuff. Mark has to get a job, Maureen and Joanne get engaged then unengaged, Angel gets sick and dies. Mimi (who happens to be an ex-girlfriend of his) gets Benny to give the tenants back their stuff and the apartment. He is willing to do it rent free but Mark insists on paying him, still sore from him treating them how he does.At Angel’s funeral the group has a major argument driving everyone apart. Where did they go, what did they do? You’ll have to watch to find out.
I maintain my thoughts on the odd singing, but the story was powerful and whilst I didn’t care for a lot of the way they sang the songs, I love the songs, themselves. A lot of focus on the struggles of the HIV-positive community, sure, but it was more than that. It is based on the Giacomo Puccini opera, La Bohéme and documents the lives of modern Bohemians living in New York’s Alphabet City part of Manhattan, trying to make a living under the darkness that is HIV/AIDS.So, it’s more about their lives and how someone may affect others and never know it and knowing here’s light in the darkness but you have to look for it; you continue on no matter what. The film was set in 1989/1990 so the AIDS epidemic was in full swing. Although we’re not yet free from it, great strides have been made to find the cure and help those afflicted with it. We still have a long way to go.
I found it interesting to see the actors, who went on to do bigger things, in these roles. Jesse L. Martin, I know better from playing Joe West on TV’s The Flash and of course, Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel (she was the original Elphaba in Wicked) who were married from 2003-2014 (they were married during the filming of this film). Rosario Dawson has gotten pretty big and is on Netflix’s Daredevil, now. I just think it’s cool.
Rotten Tomatoes rates it at a very lowly 46% (not Fresh), yet the Audience Score is 83%. I’m on the side of the audience in this one. IMDb has it at 7 stars out of 10. I saw the film on Netflix and I rate it 4 stars out of 5. Have you seen the film? What did you think of it? I’d love to hear.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“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? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee. In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife. In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes – how do you measure a year in the life? How about love? How about love? How about love? Measure in love… seasons of love.” – “Seasons of Love” (Larson)