“Rent” (2005) is the story of a group of New Yorkers who are lovers and friends that are struggling in Alphabet City in New York City amidst the AIDS epidemic. The movie stars much of the original cast from the Broadway production and features epic songs like “Seasons of Love.” This column does contain spoilers.
Anna Hirshman (AH): Normally when we watch these movies, Allie and I discuss our thoughts about things as they happen. But “Rent” is so captivating and special that we found ourselves entranced with long periods of silence between us. There is such a distinct emotional energy to this film.
Allie Morgenstern (AM): Admittedly, I have only seen this film once (sorry, Anna), and I never really got the chance to sit down and really think about it. Well, I loved it so much. I understand why Anna is obsessed. The plot and the music are incredible, and what a cast! I’m Idina Menzel‘s biggest fan.
AH: And we love Angel’s character (the drag queen who epitomizes joy and kindness) so much. She kicks butt. We all need someone who will take us in after being mugged, buy us a great leather jacket off the street and break into our apartment while dressed as Pussy Galore from “Goldfinger” (1964).
AM: Also, how does she RUN in heels? I can’t even walk in heels.
AH: As we were wallowing after Angel’s death, the opening notes to “What You Own” started playing and I shot right up. It is my personal anthem.
AM: I remember my high school put on a production of “Rent” when I was still in middle school, and my neighbor played Collins, and I thought he was a literal celebrity. I also remember thinking Maureen’s “Over the Moon” was hysterical, even though I probably didn’t know what she was talking about.
AH: Well, this time it was my turn to sing along to every word in every song, even when I did not realize I was doing it. I take a lot of pride in my ability to crank out “La Vie Boheme.” I do have a hard time listening to the music alone in the car because I want to sing every harmony, but I have to choose one.
AM: It was truly awesome to see Anna so in her element. And, in all honesty, she does a pretty good job singing basically every part in the songs.
AH: Maybe the biggest revelation was that we think that Mark Cohen is the exact kind of person who would go to Tufts. He is quirky and from Westchester County.
AM: Definitely. And he is totally the mom friend. He cares about how his friends are doing and also is more invested in their romantic lives than his own. Relatable content.
AH: In the end, while the messages of love, resilience and acceptance pervade the experience of watching the movie, I am always left with a pit in my chest thinking about Jonathan Larson, the writer and composer of the musical. Larson tragically died just before the first off-Broadway preview at age 35, depriving the world of his talent and any future culture-changing musicals that would have come along.