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1 item from 1996


Film review: 'Evita'

10 December 1996 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

"Evita" is muerte.

Buena Vista's big-screen, Madonna-starring adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's colossus of a musical is a dull, workmanlike extravaganza that will likely reign only for a short while as an "events" curiosity at the boxoffice.

Buena Vista's challenge, of course, will be to lure Madonna fans to a musical they probably never attended and, similarly, to attract older theatergoers to a vehicle for the Material Girl.

Lavishly mounted, with multitudes of extras, this Alan Parker-directed opus is a generally dreary, stodgy affair. Swathed in a dim array of muted browns and golds and filmed in a straight-ahead style, "Evita" is surprisingly devoid of the electric energy and incredible trajectory of Eva Peron's cataclysmic life.

Bookended by her lavish funeral, the film traces Eva's life as a peasant girl through her early "wild years" to her eventual meeting with a rising Juan Peron (Jonathan Pryce) and finally to her ascendance as Argentina's evanescent leader. It's a pretty straightforward telling, documenting her mercurial boldness and unwavering self-promotion.

Unfortunately, the production never really finds a point of view on her amazing ascent. With a screenplay dually credited to Alan Parker and Oliver Stone (indicative of the film's circuitous route to the screen), "Evita"'s scenario is basically a superficial, factual recitation of her rise to near-deity. Most woefully, "Evita" is bereft of irony or any perspective -- political, psychological or historical.

Parker's visual style is distressingly bland throughout. While he shows a flair for character groupings, "Evita" clomps along in a pedestrian visual cadence: Countless scenes of peasants -- marching in the streets, or standing in expectant herds to hear her balcony orations, or tromping along at her funeral -- all clump together. After awhile, the novelty of viewing large aggregations of peons standing before public works edifices loses its luster.

As Evita, Madonna exudes a grim and relentless ambition but never ignites any real sparks. After awhile, as we witness her methodical rise to power, the character becomes about as exciting and charismatic as Bob Dole.

While Madonna is surprisingly prim and subdued, the talented Jonathan Pryce is almost moribund. With his hair flattened back and a tiny smile seemingly cemented on his face, Pryce's visage looks as if it has been dabbed on by an undertaker. Worse, his performance is so limp that one is left in wonderment how such a wan person could ever have risen to head the Argentine government.

As Che, Antonio Banderas exhibits a surprisingly good singing voice; alas, his warblings are not enough to carry the expositional drivel he is required to deliver. One's mind drifts back to Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin croaking away in a buckboard in "Paint Your Wagon".

Other than the radiantly expressive "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina", the music all smears together in the same singsong cadence. Indeed, most of the expository lyrics are numbingly humdrum and forgettable. Credit, however, to Nigel Wright, for the music production and David Caddick for the music supervision: The orchestrations are often stirring and mellifluous.

EVITA

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Hollywood Pictures

Andrew G. Vajna presents "Evita"

A Cinergi/Robert Stigwood/

Dirty Hands production

An Alan Parker film

Producers Robert Stigwood,

Alan Parker, Andrew G. Vajna

Director Alan Parker

Screenwriters Alan Parker, Oliver Stone

Based on the musical "Evita"

Lyrics Tim Rice

Music Andrew Lloyd Webber

Line producer David Wimbury

Associate producer Lisa Moran

Director of photography Darius Khondji

Production designer Brian Morris

Editor Gerry Hambling

Music Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lyrics Tim Rice

Music production Nigel Wright

Music supervision David Caddick

Costume designer Penny Rose

Choreographer Vincent Paterson

Casting John & Ros Hubbard

Music produced by Nigel Wright, Alan Parker, Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Caddick,

Emilio Estefan Jr.

Orchestra conducted by John Mauceri

Color/stereo

Cast:

Eva Peron Madonna

Che Antonio Banderas

Juan Peron Jonathan Pryce

Agustin Magaldi Jimmy Nail

Dona Juana Victoria Sus

Brother Juan Julian Littman

Blanca Olga Meediz

Elisa Laura Pallas

Erminda Julia Worsley

Young Eva Maria Lujan Hidalgo

Running time -- 133 minutes

MPAA rating: PG

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1 item from 1996


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