I watched Rent (the movie, not the musical, altho the movie IS a musical) over the weekend. I didn’t know until I talked about it at work on Monday that much of the original “Rent” broadway cast performed the same roles in the movie. No wonder. I thought the acting was brilliant. The actors embraced their roles and their music. I’m not normally a fan of musicals, but I thought the presentation onto film was done excellently, i.e. merging the snapshot-vignette expose’ of the individual characters akin to the style of soliloquys in plays, with Hollywood camera angles and editing. Impactive, definitely.

For those of you who don’t know much about the plot of “Rent” (like me before I watched the movie), it’s a glimpse into the lives — personal issues and interpersonal relations — of approximately 7 people (I’m too lazy to count) living in some slummy apartments in New York. The main themes depicted are relationships (homo- and heterosexual, and friendship), HIV and coping therewith, near-poverty and coping therewith. At first it seemed I couldn’t relate to any of the things or people in the movie, so it seemed like a good “escape” film. But I was wrong. The plot works hard to show that as removed as these ghetto rats are from the average person’s reality, they are still Everyman, and the same heart of humanity runs a rich thread through everyone no matter what the life experience.

It was a very tearful weekend. I cried thru much of the movie. If you decide to watch it, watch for the symbolism of when Angel (the cross-dresser) takes off his/her wig; the meaning of Santa Fe; the perfect body language between Angel and boyfriend Collins, from the eyebrow arches down to the fingertips.

One warning tho. Well, actually, two. 1.) If you don’t enjoy this movie, you’d be annoyed to discover it will pretend to end 4 times before it actually ends. 2.) If you have ever nursed someone through HIV to AIDS to death, you probably should not watch this movie before seriously emotionally bracing yourself. In a Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Studies course I took at UCLA, we watched a movie documenting a gay couple’s life from the onset of AIDS till death; we saw the social stigma that is their life, each emotionally painful step they took to get through every day. Even with just that detached, prior exposure to patients with AIDS, portions of Rent were very difficult to sit through.