The most significant Hollywood musical in 15 years (virtually the only Hollywood musical in 15 years) turns on the dubious political integrity of one Eva Duarte, 1930s actress, working-class heroine, and consort of Argentina's fascist leader Col Juan Perón. Born into poverty, Eva worked her way up a ladder of men, then hitched her star to the military dictator to become the self-appointed 'spiritual leader of the nation'. Her socialist rhetoric may have been at odds with her glamorous lifestyle, but her death in 1952 caused an outpouring of grief. Is the musical still a credible genre in these cynical times? On the basis of this film, the answer's a qualified yes. Parker has no embarrassment when it comes to putting over a song, and he's assembled a strong cast in Madonna, Pryce (Perón) and a fiercely brow-beating Banderas as the ubiquitous narrator. Unfortunately, for all its popularity on stage, the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice show makes an unlikely movie. Parker does his best to disguise the fact with extensive cross-cutting and plentiful crowd scenes, but there's no real dynamic to the story, no sense of movement. The film cries out for the liberation of choreography to supplement the thin, repetitive score. An unholy cocktail of Emiliano Zapata, Eva Braun, and Princess Di, Evita's politics are intriguing; presumably that's what attracted Parker and co-screenwriter Oliver Stone to the material, but the movie's so seriously weighty, the bombast rather tips the balance against Evita charisma. Despite Madonna's impressive performance, we're never remotely tempted to cry for her - and, in the end, that must make the film a failure.
Cast and crew
Oliver Stone, Alan Parker