Reviewed by: Willie R. Mangum Jr.
|Featuring:||Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel|
|Producer:||Michael Barnathan, Mark Radcliffe, Chris Columbus|
|Distributor:||Sony Pictures Releasing|
What’s wrong with being gay? Answer
Homosexual behavior versus the Bible: Are people born gay? Does homosexuality harm anyone? Is it anyone’s business? Are homosexual and heterosexual relationships equally valid?
What about gays needs to change? It may not be what you think.
Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Philosopher Christina Sommers charges that today’s young people are suffering from “cognitive moral confusion.” They not only have trouble distinguishing right from wrong—they question whether such standards even exist.
"No day but today”
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Based on Puccini’s classic opera La Boheme, Jonathan Larson’s revolutionary rock opera ‘Rent’ tells the story of a group of Bohemians struggling to live and pay their rent in the gritty background of New York’s East Village. ‘Measuring their lives in love,’ these starving artists strive for success and acceptance while enduring the obstacles of poverty, ilness and the AIDS epidemic. One of the longest running shows on Broadway, ‘Rent’ was the winner of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Obie Award, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, four Tony Awards and three Drama Desk awards.”
If, from a technical and artistic perspective, there were any doubts about Chris Columbus’ ability to direct the film adaptation of a critically acclaimed Broadway musical.doubt no more. With a long string of comedic hits to his credit it is difficult to say that, without doubt, this is one of the best films of Columbus’ already impressive career. That difficulty noted, also note the inherent difficulty of pulling off a musical of any genre, much less a musical drama. This is enough to argue Columbus’ place among the ranks of elite directors like Spielberg, Gibson, Howard, Reiner and others.
The film opens with a stirring recital of the song “Seasons of Love” (the opening song of Act II in the Broadway musical) and asks the question, “How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?” This question sets the film’s tone and establishes the theme that will carry the development arch of the characters.
In philosophy and logic there is a fallacy known as “begging the question.” The one resounding question of this film is value and purpose in life and answers are in short supply. The simple and profound beauty of this question lies in its inherent appeal to the eternal and transcendent. A point that is totally lost in both the stage musical and this film. An incredible ensemble ably directed cannot overcome the hollow ring of emptiness. The question having been asked will be begged throughout the film.
It is this opening scene, however, that begins to reveal the directorial savvy of Chris Columbus. The simplicity of a sparse stage and straightforward “theatrical” lighting highlight the lyric while permitting undistracted story set up. From the stage we move immediately to the loft of Mark and Roger and are introduced to a small group of friends, all struggling artists, living in a neighborhood in the lower east side of Manhattan known as “Alphabet City.”
The title song “Rent” serves to introduce the neighborhood and the players. We soon find out that their former roommate, Benny, is the cause of their misery. He intends to collect from them a whole year’s rent or evict them. He also intends to raze the building and clear the adjoining lot in order to build a high-tech condo and production studio that all of them will use to achieve their dreams.
The film follows the friends as they struggle to come to terms with life on the lower east side in the shadow of poverty, AIDS and the overwhelming tide of the mainstream, represented by their former friend, that threatens to crush their creative heart and conform them to the demands of a material culture.
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?
In Truths That She Learned,
Or In Times That He Cried,
In Bridges He Burned,
Or The Way That She Died.
This film asks an insightful question and ends up overwhelmingly empty. Can you measure the life of a person in any of these proposed ways? Certainly.
The truths that we learn are of eternal importance. Truth is the plumb line of life, setting the direction and providing the goal that gives life purpose and meaning. Without truth, there is no ability to measure the life of a man or a woman.
The times that we cry and the bridges we burn are significant points in life that fall along that plumb line. Why do we cry? When and for whom do we cry? Which bridges do we burn and why? The line we use to plumb of our lives will dictate these significant events.
Finally, the way that we die will reveal whether or not our plumb line was, indeed, true. And this is where the film falls profoundly short. The plumb line here is self without significant restriction or guidance from truth. The lyric of two songs sufficiently display the error and the emptiness of this film; “Another Day” and “La Vie Boheme.” These songs parallel the resounding chorus of our post-modern era, “truth is relevant, and there are no absolutes.”
The question of Pontus Pilate must reverberate through our minds as we consider the questions and proposed answers of this film. “What is truth?”
The answer to the question is repeatedly on the proverbial “tip of the tongue” in this film. And it is repeatedly spat to the dirt in disdain and mockery. The words of Romans 1:18-32 are very clearly depicted throughout this film. Truth is on display and truth very clearly reveals a crooked and depraved plumb line in the lives of these young artists.
In godlessness and wickedness we suppress the truth. The wrath of God has been revealed from heaven and we see it ever so clearly in the condemnation and death of Jesus of Nazareth. God has pronounced judgment on godless and wicked men and He has fully executed His wrath at Golgotha, the place of the skull, the mount of Calvary, the very place where sin was once and for all judged, condemned and conquered. Eternal punishment was borne and eternal life has been secured, being demonstrated in the resurrection of this same Jesus of Nazareth.
This truth is, at the same time, the plumb line for living and the plumb line for love. Godlessness and wickedness will continue to hold down the truth. Godliness and righteousness must continue to uphold the truth by lifting up the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
This film has no redeeming moral value and I cannot, in good conscience, recommend that anyone go and see it. I can, on the other hand, point out that our response to this film and to the “Rent” players in our real lives, must be according to the same compassion, mercy and grace demonstrated at Calvary and granted to us.
There are no answers in this film. The only real and lasting answers to the questions raised in this film are found in Christ. Our lives must be lived according to the kind of love and compassion He demonstrated to the woman at the well. While He pointed out and acknowledged the sin in her life He also acknowledged the deeper need for the forgiveness and redemption that can usher a soul into true worship. He understood the measure of a life and He has called us to understand and live according to this same measurement.
We are God’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us and we are called to implore people, on Christ’s behalf, to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). Because ‘God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’
We must so live that we demonstrate the love, grace and mercy of our King.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
Comments from young people