Rent is the film adaptation of the award winning Broadway’s rock musical that center on the lives of the Bohemians living in the East Village of New York City that is struggling with rental payments, Aids, Love and Life, and the intricate impacts of the character actions. This film and musical is inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème and adopt its main theme of the struggles of young poor artistes living in a big harsh city that often ignores their presence and problems. The playwright Billy Aronson focused the plot to bold out the dilemmas faced by the characters such as the complicated relationship between Mimi Marquez, a drug addict erotic dancer and Roger Davis, a heartbroken rockstar who both are HIV positive but reluctant to expose of their predicaments or commit to a relationship for the fear of rejection. This part of the plot portrays the nature of a majority of HIV patients who often hides their illness from society’s judgmental criticism and fail from acquiring the proper help that they needed.
This story also involves the controversial LGBT plot lines with the complex affairs of the lesbian lawyer, Joanna and the bisexual performance artist Maureen who used to date another main character of the film Mark Cohen, the Jewish filmmaker, in addition to this theme, there was also a sweet love story of the transgender percussionist, Angel with the gay philosophy professor Tom Collins. All these characters faced the same prejudice and homophobic scorns of the society but none of them were ashamed or hide their sexual preferences. This part of the plot portrays our society’s ongoing debate on such issue and their reactions to such public display of homosexuality.
Of course the main struggle that all these characters have in common is their battle against high bills and rentals plus the eviction notice from the dump they called home. This main theme of the movie comes in with the character Benjamin Coffin III, once a roommate of the other characters is now their landlords whom have lost his soul in his quest of climbing that corporate ladder. Not only did he abandon his friends when they called for help but also caused the main problem of the entire plot. This plot portrays the harsh and at times cruel decisions that have been made in the name of progress and profits.
This film has a multiple narrative points with almost each character singing out their problems in a musical number. The main narrative line in this film is from Mark Cohen’s effort to showcase the hardship of those living in the ghetto in his documentary project. His failure to gain sponsor for his film and the increasing pile of unpaid bills forced him to secure a stable job. In a scene of a New Year Party, the characters vows their resolutions and thus setting a marker for the plot line. The author used this scene to fast forward the plot and skipped a year in the timeline. This was one of the key decisions that the author used in this film. The film then resumes its plotline by revisiting the characters and show how much a year had changed.
The other key decisions that the author has made to the script was to highlights that though most of the characters were facing persecution of their sexual preferences or their ongoing battle with HIV, the most important struggle was against the demanding society’s for monetary stability. This can be seen in the characters gathering to protest the demolition of their housing. The writer’s also include such scene like the group therapy sessions for AIDs to show that the internal struggles of the character would be a lot easier if they open up their feelings. When the film skipped a year in the plot line, the author showed the results of the characters actions and their destructive behaviors. Here the decision for the author to stay true to reality was uncanny, with most of the vows made by the characters broken. To resolve this, author has decided to use the death of the character, Angel as a reminder to the rest of the entourage on the more important problems that they are facing.
The setting of this movie is set in the rundown section of New York City in the present time. The movie has a mixture of both Broadway stage settings with the realistic urban locations. The tone of the movie’s visual aspect is as colorful as the characters themselves with eccentric costume choices to exaggerate the persona of each individual. Though the costume of the backgrounds extras are slightly too fashionable compared to reality but it help to set the mood of the movie. It also includes footages of real New York street life from the character Cohen’s camera that displayed in the movie like an old movie projector.