Wednesday, December 07, 2005

no day but nine years ago

Okay, fine, I'll talk about Rent.

As is the case for most of us, my tolerance for drama and preference for the eclectic was much higher when I was younger. So back in the day, Rent came along at the perfect time. My friends and I were 19 and so were the characters. Naturally, I ran in Rent-loving circles; you probably did too. We played the soundtrack until it wore out. Literally... eventually I had to get a second copy.

I saw it several times; on Bostonway, not Broadway. So it became a Thing in My Life that I'd never be able to be objective about because "oh, Rent, I LOVED it when I was in college." I can never be too hard on it, just like I can never be too hard on Dave Matthews or Ben Folds or that stupid song Closing Time... it's the sentimental factor. For a lot of reasons, I wouldn't have liked it as much if I'd seen it today. So when the movie version comes out, with all the original Broadway actors, I'm in that gray area, negotiating with my college self.

It never should've been a musical. It would've been more compelling as a book, a movie, a series on HBO. Don't get me wrong; I know every breath of the songs on those CDs and like a lot of them. Wore out my first copy, remember. But honestly, the "lyrics" are essentially just dialogue set to music, often awkwardly. Plus any movie that features characters who randomly break into song immediately becomes such an easy target and often seems to lose more people than are willing to hang on for the ride.

Roger and Mimi make me crazy. I'm sorry, but have any two people prepared more to begin a relationship? They're not ready, you'll never truly understand me, but you just have to TRY, let's fight in the snow, come ON, this is your LIFE! Then they decide to give it a shot, but first they have to sing about their decision for twenty seven minutes. Great, no pressure there. Then Mimi almost dies and Roger starts frantically rhyming. Your eyes, as we said our goodbyes, what's the door prize, meaningful sighs, we're all going to dies. But it resuscitates her... never underestimate the potential healing power of wordplay.

I turned to my friend and asked her if you know you're old when you suddenly realize that Benny has some valid points. All my friends who loved Rent in their penniless, scrounging-for-alcohol days now have mortgages and kitchens lousy with Crate and Barrel. The Age of Rent seems to have ended, for us anyway.

Most ironic of all was seeing this movie about love and friendship with the Bride, who used to be my best friend and my original Renthead buddy before she sold her soul. I hadn't seen her in months and she insisted that we see it together. I forced myself to be a sport, but I hated being around her, and was mad at myself for being a sellout. Then I thought, how Rent-appropriate; it really wouldn't be right if I wasn't feeling overly emotional. So after all, Jonathan Larson has the last laugh.

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