Rated 4.0

The smash Broadway pop-rock musical, the late Jonathan Larson’s update of the opera La Bohème to New York’s present-day East Village, comes to the screen courtesy of director Chris Columbus and writer Steve Chbosky (with the setting nudged back in time to 1989). The show’s millions of fans won’t be disappointed; Columbus (with cinematographer Stephen Goldblatt and editor Richard Pearson) finds visual equivalents for Larson’s soaring chords and driving beat. Seven of the nine principals are from the original 1996 Broadway cast—older now, which adds poignant urgency to the characters’ plight—and the two new additions, Tracie Thoms and Rosario Dawson, fit right in with excellent performances. Dawson’s feral sexuality, as the exotic dancer Mimi, shines; this could be her breakout role.