Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
USA, 2005. Rent Productions LLC, 1492 Pictures, Revolution Studios, Tribeca Productions. Screenplay by Stephen Chbosky, based on the book of the musical play by Jonathan Larson. Cinematography by Stephen Goldblatt. Produced by Michael Barnathan, Chris Columbus, Robert De Niro, Mark Radcliffe, Jane Rosenthal. Music by Jonathan Larson, Rob Cavallo, Matthew Rush Sullivan. Production Design by Howard Cummings. Costume Design by Aggie Guerard Rodgers. Film Editing by Richard Pearson.
The late Jonathan Larson’s hit Broadway play makes it to the big screen with respectable results, nine years after it set Broadway on fire. Most of the original cast (minus two, replaced here by Rosario Dawson and Tracie Thoms) have been reunited to perform their roles as a group of artists living in New York’s Alphabet City and struggling with a variety of life’s setbacks, from the impossibility of making it in the world of show business to the devastation of AIDS. Based loosely on Puccini’s La Boheme (and the Henri Murger novel that inspired it), the film does a great job of keeping the Broadway score for the most part intact and is a full-on, unapologetic musical; somehow, though the characters aren’t as likeable on screen and the cast doesn’t have the same energy that they must have projected on the stage. It looks and sounds great, but it’s too long and Dawson’s performance at the centre isn’t particularly motivating. However, diehard fans of the original show will be satisfied (if not ecstatic), and a few numbers such as “Tango Maureen” and “Light My Candle” are standouts.