Monday, February 27, 2006

"Rent" Review

I'm not sure if you've seen either the musical or the live show on Broadway, but I really hated this movie. Well... not hated, but was disturbed by its message or meaning. Maybe it was because of what I was initially led to believe it was about and what actually came across the screen.

I was under the impression that this movie was about the struggles of group of friends who had to deal with AIDS. That's not what the movie was about. It was about blaming others for the situations you've chosen for your life. It was very clear in this movie who the bad guys were - it wasn't the dope pusher, the strip club owner, the addict, the squatter, the stripper, the violent, the disrespectful, the free-loader and the lazy, etc. No, it was the restaurant owner, the police, the manager, the average family unit, the married, corporate America, the heterosexual, the religious and the educated.

I did not hear one morsel of personal responsibility in this movie. Most of the characters were living with AIDS, but they did not deal with the prevention or cause of those AIDS. It was as if the disease was the problem and the behavior was the consequence, when it was the other way around. The AIDS was a result of the lifestyle they had chosen for themselves. It was their choice to be junkies and have unprotected sex - not Corporate America.

Then they shirk their responsibility as productive citizens. They lived in this studio apartment that they haven't paid the rent on in a year, because they refuse to work a steady job in the name of squealching their creativity. Here's creativity for you - get a job, pay your rent all the while pursuing your dream. When did the Landlord become the bad guy? This was his property (regarldess how he obtained it). It didn't belong to them, yet they took advantage of his friendship and completely disrespected him. They told him that he 'used to be' an artist, but sold out. Why.... because he's got a paycheck and doesn't live off the charity of others? No, I don't think he was the sell out, they were. He still had his dreams. He wanted to build his studio. It's wasn't the squatters dream, so they call him a 'sell out'. So much for compassion and understanding. This group had none unless it dealt with themselves.

I saw them all as selfish.

Joanne - she wanted Maureen - and nothing else mattered. Maureen tried to make her feel bad because she was educated and a lawyer.

Maureen - tried to blame hormones for being a slut. "I can't help it - since puberty I've received this type of attention from both male and females". You receive the attention you seek after. Everyone controls how they behave. All dogs know when a female is in heat - so does the dog herself. Maureen was self-absorbed. Everything was about her, even Cohen's documentary, the protest and even her relationship with Joanne. Not once did I see her think about anyone else.

Yet despite their difference, lack of trust in one another or any common group, the relationship stood in the end.

Cohen - he thought himself a traitor to work a 9-5. It stifled his creativity - he was a sell out. His Jewish parents called him on Christmas and he was revolted by their happy family demeanor. A functionaly family unit was obviously disgusting to him. How selfish of him! His family called to tell them they love him - and not even an "I love you" in return! No, only selfish contempt and a resolidification that of his desire to be rid of them. He of course never got the girl - or anyone for that matter.

Mimi - a drug addict stripper who wants to be loved, yet can't love herself. She expects the guitar player to do what - hold her hand while she binges and dies? How fair is that to him? Especially since he's already buried one AIDS effective addict. What was she willing to bring to the relationship? She dies in the end, only to have experiance a near-death experiance that had Angel (who had died earlier) sending her back to 'carry on'. Carry on doing what?

The guitar player (forgot his name... I'm terrible with names). Poor guy - he can't find his song, so he does nothing. He doesn't work, doesn't try to help support his friends, but sits around wallowing in self-pity. Then, he seems to have a little bit of a backbone by refusing to give into Mimi's seduction - but then caves. He takes a little trip to New Mexico (which I haven't understood why it's so bad to go to be there), but realizes that he's just as much a bum there as he was in New York, so he heads back home. At least he wouldn't have to squat alone. He finds his song and it's all about Mimi. It was like his life didn't exist before her. He goes home to find that his girlfriend is now homeless (never knew she had a home, being as she was a squatter like the rest of them). He sings her her song, which brings her back to life.

Angel/Teacher (Can't remember his name either) - Angel just wants a thousand kisses and he'll keep his teacher financially covered. Isn't that being a sugar-daddy/prostitute? What was the other guys contribution to the relationship? He was a teacher, but never seemed to have a job. However, he was there to be with Angel in the end, which was admirable. The most functional relationship in this whole movie was between Angel and his teacher. However, what kind of message is that sending? That money solves everything? It couldn't be, because none of them thought that they needed it - and hated the world for having it and for the condition they found themselves in.

Throughout this movie they talked about the intolerance, biggotry and condemnation of the world around them... and they did all in the name of tolerance, acceptance and excuses. This movie wasn't the story about people living with AIDS - it was as much a mouthpiece of hate as any Ku Klux Klan rally or Abortion Clinic Protest. Yet, race and abortion were the only two issues that didn't come up.

Though the singers had wonderfully talented voices, this was the worst movie I've ever seen. I guess because I'm a responsible adult - I just don't get it.

Till next time,
T.L. Gray

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