Inspired by Puccini's opera La Boheme, Rent trades Paris' Latin Quarter of the early 19th century for New York's East Village of the late 20th century, and tells the story of one year in the life of a group of artists struggling to live and love in the shadow of the AIDS epidemic, drugs, and homelessness.
Mark (Anthony Rapp) is the narrator, a guerilla filmmaker who lives in a rundown building in an area of the city known as Alphabet City. He pines for Maureen (Idina Menzel), a performance artist with an appreciation for all kinds of drama, who recently left him for a lawyer named Joanne (Tracie Thoms). Mark's roommate is Roger (Adam Pascal), a melancholy musician who can't manage to write a song. He's being wooed by a stripper, Mimi (Rosario Dawson), who lives downstairs, but remains emotionally unavailable to her and to his friends.
Tom Collins (Jesse L. Martin) and Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia) round out the core group of friends as the gay lovers who meet each other a few minutes after Tom, a computer whiz, is beaten up. Angel, a flamboyant drag queen street musician alternately referred to as "he" and "she," tends his wounds, and sparks fly.
Together they sing their way from an eviction notice—issued by a former roommate, Benny (Taye Diggs), who married the landlord's daughter and has crossed over to the corporate dark side—to a street protest to an engagement dinner to a funeral. There's very little dialogue that doesn't have a melody, and the movie's exuberant musical performances trip along without much breathing room in which to develop strong attachments to the characters. We're dropped into the lives of these people and it's assumed we care. Some moviegoers will. Some moviegoers won't.
Rent is one of ...1
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