Evita (1996)

Ok, so, I’m a huge Madonna fan, but I have to admit: I’ve never really seen what all the fuss is about with “Evita.” I mean, yes, it’s one of her strongest performances from a technical point of view: She’s confident and self-assured in the role of Eva Peron, but there’s no heart to her mechanical, stiff performance. The same goes for Antonio Banderas, who is saddled with a ridiculous role as, I guess, a sort of narrator for the movie, but his sing-song dialogue and delivery are basically overemphatic warbling that don’t seem to make much sense (one minute he loves her, the next he hates her, sometimes in the same sentence). And perhaps that’s the movie’s biggest problem: I’ve seen it a few times now, and I’m still not 100% sure about the movie’s timeline, its intent, its context nor Peron herself: She’s a blank who is defined by her wardrobe and the adulation of mostly-silent citizens who worship the ground she walks on, but without a clear reason. Is it because she was “one of them,” as the movie occasionally argues? Is it because she was a master political tactician, as the movie occasionally argues? Is it because she was innately charming and stylish, as the movie occasionally argues? It’s hard to tell, and director Alan Parker seems more focused on capturing the scope of his majestic sets and the admittedly striking wardrobe than humanizing the subject of his attempted epic. But it’s all window-dressing for a grandiose but emotionally rote spectacle that has no grasp of plot, character development or historical context. The music is fine if you’re into showtunes that mimic musical rabble-rousing conventions, but I found it emotionally sterile and ultimately tiresome and exhausting.

Rating: ★★ (out of 5)

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