While I was in Washington, D.C., this past summer, one of my co-workers told me that her favorite play/musical was Rent. This was the first I had ever heard of it. When a group of us went to her apartment to study for an exam, she played part of its soundtrack to me. At the time, I was not all that impressed, but I promised her that I would not judge the musical until I saw a version of it.
When I arrived home on Friday, I saw that my mother had bought the movie adaptation of Rent. After setting up my computer, I started watching the movie in my room.
That was yesterday night. Since the first viewing, I have watched a two-hour documentary that came with the movie, and I have watched the movie itself two more times. I can hear its soundtrack from the living room as my mother is finally watching it, and I plan to watch it again once she finishes.
When the play originally hit Broadway, it became a smash hit. It was one of the largest hits on Broadway in some time. The play received Tony awards, and it has been performed all over the world. The author, who tragically died the night of the play's dress rehearsal, has been awarded a Pulitzer prize.
The story deals with a number of controversial issues, including homosexuality, AIDS, drug abuse, and poverty. It is set in the east side of New York in 1989. The main characters, all in their 20s, consist of a documentary filmmaker, a musician, a gay philosophy professor, a drag queen, a stripper, a bisexual performance artist, a lesbian lawyer, and a yuppie landlord. Obviously, this is not a story for the faint-hearted.
Professional reviews of the movie all seem to argue that the film is a weak rendition (although faithful to the original) of a story that has become obsolete since its debut. More than one has argued that no one unfamiliar with the play should see the movie because it would turn them away from ever seeing a live version.
As someone who watched this movie without knowing anything about its story or its characters, I respectfully disagree. I really want to see this performed live.