Movie of the Month: Rent

Welcome to a monthly series I will be doing called Movie of the Month. I watch a lot of movies so every month I will recommend a movie to you that I have watched this month. It might be a movie that has recently been released in theatres or it might be a movie that I watched on Netflix or it might be an old favourite movie that I re-watched recently. So next time you’re stuck on a movie to watch, come check out A Ripple in Water and see what I’m recommending! This month (September 2016), I’m going to be discussing Rent.

I watched Rent for the first time a long time ago but I watched it again a few days ago after the music  was stuck in my head and it was a really good decision. Rent is a movie musical about young artists in New York City in the 1980s, who are not living in the greatest conditions and are trying to create a life worth living. With music, lyrics, and book by Jonathan Larson, this musical (and later movie), Rent is loosely based on Larson’s life, where 5 of his friends were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and his living conditions in Greenwich Village. This musical won a Pulitzer Prize and ran for 12 years on Broadway. The movie features most of the original Broadway cast including: Anthony Rapp as Mark Cohen, Adam Pascal as Roger Davis, Jesse L. Martin as Tom Collins, Wilson Jermaine Heredia as Angel Dumott Shunard, Idina Menzel as Maureen Jonhson, and Taye Diggs as Benjamin Coffin III. In my opinion, Rent is a 10/10 movie and you should go watch it and here’s why:

There’s tons of representation
This movie is very inclusive of all different kinds of gender and races. In the main cast and ensemble characters there are black characters, gay characters, queer characters, queer characters of colour, and non-binary/transgender characters, bisexual characters. Never once are these characters portrayed in a negative light nor is their skin colour or sexuality the main focus of their character. The character’s gender and race is simply a part of who they are. There is so much more to them such as how kind they are or how rebellious they are or how hard-working they are. This is an important, especially today, because people need to realize that people should not be defined by their gender, race, religion, etc.

 

There’s lots of negative stigma that is never demonized or degraded
In my opinion, the whole premise of Rent is that life sucks (but you can get through it with friends). Every single character in this movie is dirt broke and it really shows that money can’t buy happiness. I mean, the characters wish they had money but it’s because they are broke that this whole story exists. These characters are never portrayed as lazy or uneducated or dirty any of those “poor people” stereotypes. This movie is also about people with AIDS in the 80s and how they are “living with, not dying from” the disease and for the most part they seem to be living their life just fine. Having AIDS is not something that is looked down on, it is just something they have to learn to live with and deal with and the characters are not presented as weak or depressed. One of the characters is a stripper and she is not looked down upon by anyone, after all, as she says, it’s a living and people are just trying to earn enough money to survive. There’s also the negative stigma about LGBTQ+ relationships that is also never frowned upon by anyone. In fact, there are two LGBTQ+ relationships and they are the best relationships in the whole movie. The whole movie basically just a big “fuck you” to anyone who doesn’t care about the sick, the poor, and the gay. The fact that all of these things are presented in a way that is not demonized illustrates that being sick, poor, or gay, are completely valid and are just parts of life.

 

It’s a really sweet story about people coming together and being supportive
You will cry watching this movie, both happy tears and sad tears (especially in the second half of the movie). People from all different races and sexualities and genders and living circumstances all come together to face society’s biggest challenges – relationship difficulties, death and disease, toxic friendships, and money problems. But somehow despite everything that is going on in the main character’s lives, everyone is trying to help each other through the rough times (and that’s where you will cry happy tears).

 

The music is amazing
If there’s one thing Jonathan Larson accomplished with this musical (and the movie by extension), it’s that he proved that rock music absolutely belongs on Broadway. Full of rock ballads with strong, catchy beats, and the odd more traditional musical theatre song, you will surely have the music stuck in your head for days on end. Larson also managed to pack so much meaning into 2.5 hours of music completely sung-through. My personal favourite lyric is “there’s only now, there’s only this, forget regret, or life is yours to miss, no day but today.” Every word drives the story forward and every word is valuable. The music is where people find so much (and so many) different meanings in this story . Everyone takes something different from it and I think that really is the beauty of this movie musical. So I will leave you with a song from the movie (not from the Original Broadway Cast Album or the Movie Cast Album but it’s great anyways since it features Lin-Manuel Miranda and Adam Pascal (Roger)) but I highly suggest you watch the whole thing because every song is amazing.

 

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