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Volume 90, Issue 61

Tuesday, January 14, 1997



Don't cry for Madonna

Gazette File Photo
WELL, IT'S NO SHANGHAI SURPRISE. Madonna in the role of Eva Peron.


Starring Madonna, Antonio Banderas and Johnathan Pryce
Directed by Alan Parker
At Wellington 8, 7:20 and 9:50 p.m.

"Don't cry for me Argentina. . ." Words that will be stuck in your head after viewing Madonna as Eva Peron in Evita.

Adapted from the stage production which recounts the remarkable, yet tragic, rags-to-riches story of the Argentinian actress turned political leader, Evita is a stunning film – as far as musicals are concerned.

There are many inherent limitations to this sing-everything-you-say style and unfortunately, they spring up commonly in Evita. The story cannot be fully related to the audience through the lyrics and therefore, many of the motives behind characters' actions are left unknown. For example, the political unrest in the film is left unexplained. It is only hinted at with a few scenes of tanks and soldiers and an accompanying song with a kitschy ‘70s rock beat.

Another obstacle for the musical genre to overcome is finding interesting ways to relate the story in song. Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote the music for Evita, along with Tim Rice, who wrote the lyrics. They should definitely be commended for coming up with some disjointed and hard-to-follow songs, even by today's musical standards. For example, the second song in the film lasts for at least 15 minutes and switches beat and styles at least as many times.

Antonio Banderas (Desperado) is the character who handles the bulk of the film's vocal chores, acting as a narrator who appears in many small roles (as a bartender, projectionist and crowd member to name a few). What is most surprising is his amazing singing voice, although at times he is difficult to understand due to his thick accent.

Banderas actually outshines Madonna. He is witty and charming, a true everyman who represents the voice of the Argentinian people. Madonna, as Evita, seems bland in contrast. Despite her ability to sing, Madonna brings no character or emotion to her role. Evita would be hopeless without Banderas' Che to back her up and bring meaning to her character.

But what Evita lacks in characters and storyline, it more than compensates for in production. The film could be celebrated more as an exposť in women's fashion in the 1950s than a film about a woman's life. Evita displays herself in hundreds of outfits, changing her hairstyle and colour in almost every scene. The sets are also elaborate and dazzling and, together with the costuming, fit together to create a wonderful spectacle.

The casting of Evita was not entirely appropriate. Madonna and Banderas are perfect for their roles – Madonna for her similarity to the real-life Peron and Banderas for his Spanish accent and rugged looks.

But Jonathan Pryce, who plays Peron, the Argentinian president and husband of Evita, looks and sounds all too American. Some of his political advisers as well could be more suited for the White House. One of these men in particular stands out because he oddly looks and sounds like a Texan.

Despite all of the attention and hype Evita has drawn, it leaves the viewer with mixed emotions. The actual production of the film is visually stunning, but some of the performances, especially Madonna's, are mediocre at best. Granted her role in Evita is quite a step above her earlier film roles, but it is not very much more substantial. She is not convincing enough to evoke the tears and grief of a movie-going audience, let alone an entire country, as the real Eva Peron did.

–Lisa Weaver

Gazette File Photo
DESPERADO, WHY DON'T YOU COME TO YOUR SENSES. Antonio Banderis plays Che in Evita

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca