In the ballad “La Vie Boheme”, a colorful cadre of performers raise a toast to “create emotion, devotion, commotion”. After all, Jonathan Larson’s groundbreaking musical “rent“The epitome of revolution. In earnest though narratively clumsy hbo documentaries In “Revolution Fare,” a director uncovers the relevance of this joy-filled show when it is translated into a different language, culture, and political landscape.
“Revolution Fare”, directed by Andy Sean Jr. and Victor Patrick Alvarez, traces Sean’s rocky road to developing the first Cuban Broadway musical produced by an American company in decades. The film begins with Seor’s background as a cast with “Rent” and his decision, regardless of his family’s opposition, to direct the Cuban adaptation. In addition to facing technical issues, translation adjustments and disagreements between artists, Seor is also forced to consider his own heritage and history. Despite the film’s intriguing premise, its cursory and one-sided narrative approach undermines its main themes and messages.
The film feels scattered, relying heavily on abruptly intercut footage of the original Broadway cast’s performances in the first quarter, and too little in the details of the production’s storyline before leaving with the rest of the next thing.
And so Seor’s personal narrative shifts in and out of focus — her connection to music and her Cuban heritage is detailed enough to leave us more history, more background, more reflection and more depth. Likewise, brief glimpses into the lives of its cast, some queer and many poor, are compelling, but inconsistent and over too soon.
For a documentary about a substantial staging of a beloved musical, “Revolution Fare” also skimps on the visuals in the final product. The production’s Roger sang a lively Spanish translation of “One Song Glory”; Seor pushes an artist into emotional calculation with the meaning of the word freedom; Conversation about a strange musical performance in a country that doesn’t have a good track record for its treatment of LGBTQ people: These are the moments that resonate the most but are struck by the film’s sporadic approach.
The show “Fare” gave us an on-stage revolution, while “Revolution Rent” often gives us a poignant translation.
not evaluated. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes. watch on hbo.