Based on the opera La bohème, Rent is a musical that manages to make living in poverty in New York City and dying of AIDS look like great fun.
The characters in this movie are all dirt poor and yet they go to bars, where they sing and dance on the tables, while drinking alcohol they can’t afford.
The plot revolves around an aspiring documentary maker named Mark and his plethora of impoverished friends. They’re all involved in various good works, for which apparently they’re unpaid.
Then, there’s Maureen and Mimi, who are the requisite love interests of someone or other. There are so many relationships in this film, you need a scorecard to keep track. In any case, they’re all incredibly cool and awesome people.
Naturally, it’s because they’re young. And to be young is to be pure in spirit. Unlike evil older people who sell out their values to make money, these young people live for the moment.
No matter what tragedy befalls them, the characters in Rent can come up with a catchy tune to deal with it.
Unencumbered by bosses, jobs, mortgages, marriages, children, and other bothersome things, the Bohemian Rent-ers need only belt out a song and dance around, while dressed in fashionably shabby clothes, that look suspiciously clean and would probably cost a fortune, since their very shabbiness renders them chic, to dispel all their cares and problems.
In the end, a guy named Angel (of course, what else would he be called?) dies of AIDS. Then, Mimi also dies, but then she doesn’t. She comes back to life, claiming that Angel told her to return to the living. It’s like one of those horror movies, where the dead spring back to life, except everyone watches Mark’s documentary and they sing a song about how there’s “no day but today” or, perhaps, “no business like show business.” Whatever.
In fairness, I have to add that the topic is … well … topical and that the songs are moving. It’s a Hollywood movie — what do you want? 🙂
So, despite the total lack of believability, the film is a bit of frivolous fun, with a thought-provoking undercurrent. I suppose it deserves at least a so-so rating.