Rent (12A)

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The Independent Culture

Jonathan Larson's hugely successful musical may have had them swaying in the aisles on Broadway, but this film adaptation is more likely to have you checking the exits. From the opening number, in which the chorus urges us to "measure your life in love", a repulsive and overpowering blandness holds sway as its cast of bright young(ish) things lament the cost of living (rent) and the pain of dying (Aids) amid the picturesque squalor of 1980s Manhattan. The director, Chris Columbus, somehow renders the staging both slack and hysterically eager, a vision that is gruesomely matched to a musical compound of Eighties powerpop and Bon Jovi-style rock-outs. The cast, which includes Rosario Dawson as a feline dance artiste, sing their hearts out, and all for the sake of a mawkish and deluded bohemianism. The Eighties were a self-regarding decade: do we really need a self-regarding look back?

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