Evita (PG)

Directed by Alan Parker
Starring Madonna, Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Pryce

I learnt an important lesson by seeing this film; don't go and see musicals if you aren't that keen on them, particularly a love-it-or-hate-it musical like Evita. Many people adored it and saw it time after time, others saw it once and that was enough. My problem was that there was just too much singing! Non stop for over 2 hours! I have never been a huge fan of Madonna's acting, but when she gives a two line speech near the end, I wanted to cheer her for opening her mouth without more of Rice/Lloyd-Webber's tuneless clunkers coming out!
The film opens with a memorable image of Eva Peron's funeral, and then tracks back to her early life, and her dealings with a singer(a surprisingly convincing Jimmy Nail), that leads her to Buenos Aires and the high life. Eventually she meets rising political star Juan Peron(Pryce with a truly awful haircut) and becomes much beloved first lady. Then she dies and that's it.
There are good things in this film, chiefly a very good performance from Madonna, who is quite perfect in style, attitude and singing. Director Parker has produced quite an epic in scale and looks. There are a number of BIG crowd scenes, and the film does indeed look very lovingly photographed. The hunky Banderas is OK as the narrator. Although his singing is adequate, his songs are amongst the worst. Not because of Banderas, but because they are often linking or explaining songs which have meandering melodies and awkward lyrics. Each time we saw him, I gave a little groan as another song was coming up. His lack of real singing flair didn't help though.
In the 2 hours 13mins there were three songs I liked(Don't Cry for me Argentina, Another Suitcase, Another Hall and I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You.) These songs took approximately 15-20 minutes. For the other 2 hours or so I was in agony! People really went wild for these songs!?
The moral of this tale is that if you liked the musical, you'll probably love the film, if you hated the musical, avoid at all costs. If you aren't a Lloyd-Webber fan really, like me, you could discover new depths of loathing for the new lord for inflicting 2 hours 13 minutes of torture. Sorry, but I hated this. 3/10.

January 1997

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