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Thursday, May 29, 2008

RENT (2005)

That most literal of helmers, Chris Columbus, blunted the effectiveness of the first two HARRY POTTER pics with an overabundance of fidelity, and he has now botched his adaptation of RENT with much the same approach. Jonathan Larson’s Pop/Rock ‘take’ on Puccini’s LA BOHEME is too loaded w/ pleasures not to make some effect, and the return of most of the original cast, ten years on, is unexpectedly beneficial. They look late 20s, which works just fine, and they sound better than ever, if a bit too glammed up in the film’s sound mix. But it’s only Adam Pascal, he gets the great solo GLORY (has this been truncated by Columbus?), who manages the acting trick of heightened awareness both in and out of singing mode. That touch of stylization brings its own sense of a larger-than-life poetic truth so rarely brought off by modern, realistic performers in this tricky genre. But more generally (sadly), the freshness & emotional wallop of the stage show have been fatally downgraded. (The final B'way perf was recorded live for cable and may make a better case for the show.)

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