On MUTVStream: “Rent” creates a whole new Bohemia

By Allison Mann, The Prowl

After being released eight years ago, I finally got to see the movie with the infamous minutes song, better known as “Seasons of Love.” While “Rent” may have the most cliché themes in it, when you think about it, what isn’t cliché these days?

In the beginning of the movie, the audience is introduced to the entire cast singing that beautiful tune of time and love. First, there’s Mark (Anthony Rapp), who is an aspiring director and newly single after being dumped by Maureen (Idina Menzel) for an attorney named Joanne (Tracie Thoms). Then there’s Mark’s roommate, Roger (Adam Pascal), a struggling musician, ex-addict and also newly single due his girlfriend’s passing from AIDS. He is heavily pursued by Mimi (Rosario Dawson) the fearless current addict and exotic dancer who lives downstairs. AIDS is also revealed to affect the almost perfect pairing of Tom (Jesse Martin), the philosophy instructor, and Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia), a lively, rough around the edges transvestite. And it doesn’t take long to be introduced to Benny (Taye Diggs), use-to-be-best friend that now owns the East Village Manhattan building in which Mark, Roger and Mimi live.

I might have not had the pleasure of seeing “Rent” live on Broadway but it is clear that director Chris Columbus has successfully encapsulated all the important elements of the story. He depicts the beauty of youth, rebellion and the freedom of naivety. These are not subtle messages that one has to keep up with while watching. Rather they are messages that are in your face and clear as day through the magnificent voices of the cast and lyrics of Jonathan Larson.

“Rent” opens to Christmas day on Avenue A where the cast wakes to eviction notices all over the place, put up by the generational capitalistic sell-out, Benny. Roger and Mark are given a choice: to halt Maureen’s protest for the homeless and become part of Benny’s new company or get evicted. While the two struggle with the matter, Tom meets Angel. At this time, Columbus introduces the epidemic of AIDS, which becomes, in one way or another, overwhelmingly present in every cast members’ life. Over the course of a year, we see relationship develop, crumble and the challenges of life and death. The cast fights the wave of a mainstream lifestyle and while some give in, ultimately they are all united as a family.

Bohemia may be dead, and it is mourned through an eccentric, playful song “La Vie Boheme” in “Rent.” However, the cast projects an individualized Bohemia. Its gives a romantic outlook that in a busy bustling New York city or anywhere else for that matter, one can find love, friendship, compassion and loyalty. This is certainly a film worth taking a look at, and can be seen here on MUTVStream.