Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


LA BOHEME (2008). Director: Robert Dornhelm.

This is another film version of Puccini's wonderful opera, employing real opera singers. Anna Netrebko is the doomed Mimi and tenor Rolando Villazon is her lover Rudolpho, who tries to end their relationship and encourage her to see a wealthier man because he can't afford to take care of her and he's afraid she'll die. La boheme starts out with the friskiness of youth, dealing heroically with their poverty and disappointment, but then certainly shows the sobering dark side of the bohemian life and its bitter struggles. The music is, in a word, magnificent, even more beautiful than Puccini's Tosca. The singers, unfortunately, emote as if they're on the opera stage, with overly broad gestures. Both Netrebko and Villazon are in fine voice, however. Nicole Cabell is Musetta, who sings the famous waltz. Villazon seems to have an appealing personality, but he seems, oddly, a bit raccoon-like in this picture. Frankly, this filmization is nothing special, but it's carried along, as usual, by the music and the singing, and a very affecting story.

Verdict: With Puccini you can never go entirely wrong. ***.

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