Evita

* * * 1/2*

Director Alan Parker's version of Evita tells the musical story of Argentinian First Lady Eva Peron. Antonio Banderas narrates the story as the acerbic Che, an everyman who wryly comments on the political goings on. Madonna stars as Eva, who comes from a very poor family. She latches on to rising tango singer Agustin Magaldi (Jimmy Nail) as he returns to Buenos Aires. Once in the city, she proceeds to sleep her way to the top, launching a singing and acting career. Eventually, she meets General Juan Peron (Jonathan Pryce), a powerful man behind the scenes who strives to be dictator of Argentina. Nearly the whole film is sung, adapted from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical. It is never quite a tutorial on Argentine politics, but it is entertaining nonetheless. All three of the prime leads sing and act well, but it is Banderas and Madonna who truly shine. The film is exceedingly well shot, and although the lipsynching is noticable in a few scenes, it doesn't dilute the enjoyment. Cinematographer Darius Khondji deserves special kudos for the film's wonderful look. From details in light and shadow to marches of thousands, the film has a grand feel. Evita is a good sign for fans of the musical genre, and a measuring stick for those to follow.

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