Rent (2005) (PG-13)

Comedy 135 min. November 23, 2005
By Melissa Levine
Almost everything in this adaptation of the Broadway schmaltzfest feels fake: the snow, the tenements, the sentiment. Writer Jonathan Larson's characters are not people so much as types: the nebbishy Jew, the incandescent drag queen, the sexy Latina dancer, the buttoned-up lawyer, the hot-shit guitar god, and so on. While Larson seemed to want to work against expectations -- it's the black lesbian, not her white partner, whose parents belong to a Greenwich country club -- his signifiers are so typical as to be confoundingly dull. Worse, they're considerably oversold. Larson was writing about his life and his friends, but Rent feels like an attempt to portray a time and place ("Bohemian" New York in the 1980s, if you haven't heard) by someone who lives in rural Nebraska and reads People. The movie's two redeeming elements: Angel (Wilson Heredia) and Tom (Jesse L. Martin), two men in love played by irresistible actors. Both bring light and life to an otherwise embarrassing film, perhaps the worst of 2005.
Chris Columbus Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Tracie Thoms, Heather Barberie, Mackenzie Firgens Stephen Chbosky, Chris Columbus, Jonathan Larson Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan, Mark Radcliffe Sony Pictures

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