Mimi saying that she would quit the drugs and go back to school, knowing that she probably couldn't.
When Angel died.
the "I'll Cover You" reprise
A more specific point - "When your heart has expired" in the Dark Reprise of "I'll Cover You". Dare you not to cry.
All through the song, Collins is clutching the coat Angel bought for him to his chest, like a security blanket.
In the 2008 version, both Mark and Maureen are crying during their funeral speeches.
Mark messing up Angel's pronouns while trying to tell a story about her at her funeral.
The song Without You. It gets better in the movie. First, there's the montage of the support group, with each member who dies slowly fading from view as the camera pans over them, and then there's the inclusion of Angel's death at the end, shown in its blunt, harsh, painful reality, as Collins cries holding the body. This replaces the Mind Screw/True Art Is Incomprehensible original version of the death from "Contact", and was included by Word of God because of the age of the musical: by the time the movie was made, AIDS research had progressed enough that the disease is no longer an automatic death sentence and a lot of modern people wouldn't get why such a big deal is made out of contracting it. By showing Angel's death, the pain and sorrow and loss and suffering is brought home to the viewer in a way "Contact" never could have, and pairing it up with "Without You" makes it even more poignant and heart-wrenching. It certainly works.
Also the repeating chorus song, "Will I?" being sung by an AIDS support group, slowly joined by the main cast. "Will I lose my dignity?/Will someone care?/Will I wake tomorrow/from this nightmare?"
The worst part? The support group members are all named after Jonathan Larson's friends who died from AIDS.
And that the song was inspired by a member of a real life support group that Jonathan Larson visited who stood up and said something to the effect of "I know that I am going to die; I am not afraid of that. I know that it will probably be long and painful, and I am not afraid of that. The only thing that I am afraid of is, will I lose my dignity?"
In the tenth anniversary concert, the solo bit in "Will I?" is sung by Angel because the original cast member couldn't be there. That's right, Angel, who's generally such a happy person, asking if anyone will care when she dies. Yeah.
"Life Support". "Look, I find some of what you teach suspect/Because I'm used to relying on intellect/But I try to open up to what I don't know/Because reason says I should have died three years ago." And then everyone joins in with the Life Support mantra.
Halloween. Why am I the witness!? And when I capture it on film... will it mean that it's the end, and I'm alone...? -sniff-
Mark and Roger's fight.
Mark: Maybe you'll see why when you stop escaping your pain! At least now if you try, Angel's death won't be in vain!
Roger: His death IS in vain!
In "Goodbye Love," when Roger accuses Mark of hiding behind his camera and Mark retorts "Perhaps it's because I'm the one of us to survive!" To hear him finally confess to his best friend how terrified he is of watching him die, especially in the middle of an argument, is just heartbreaking.
In the stage show, when the members of Life Support are giving their names, you may notice that the names given vary from the ones in the Original Broadway Cast recording or the film (Steve, Gordon, Ally, Pam, and Sue). The thing is that these names are changed from production to production, to honor the friends and family of the cast who are living with or have died from AIDS.
One song, glory.
"Glory, from the soul of a young man. ...A young man."
"Time flies...and then no need to endure anymore!...Time dies."
The film amps this up even more by showing a chronological montage of Roger and April falling in love up to her breaking down over her (and, by extension, his) HIV-positive diagnosis.
You all said you'd be cool today,/So please, for my sake.../I can't believe he's gone./I can't believe you're going./I can't believe this family must die./Angel helped us believe in love./I can't believe you disagree.
Just before this line - Mark's desperate attempts to defuse the argument before Collins hears. It does not work.
Somehow even worse is the fact that Benny is also trying to calm everyone down with him. He accidentally started the argument, then has to spend the rest of the song trying to get everyone to just stop shouting.
There's something about Roger's anguished "Mimiiiiii!" at the end of "Your Eyes," especially the 2008 version. Chills, man.
A meta example: Jonathan Larson unexpectedly died just before the show's off-broadway premiere. Anthony Rapp said in his autobiography that the next night, the cast did a performance for Jonathan's close friends and family - even though he and several others were crying too hard to even sing some of the songs properly. And then they sang again at the memorial service. Where, in addition to group songs, Adam Pascal performed One Song Glory. You know, the song about writing one last important, meaningful thing before you die?
When Mimi revives a few moments after dying in Roger's arms and recounts how she was "in a tunnel, heading towards a warm, white light" and at the end of it was Angel (and she looks good!). Angel had turned her around and literally sent her back to Earth to be with Roger and everyone again.
Finale B has a quick blink-and-you'll-miss-it-moment in the movie. After Mimi revives and tells everyone how she saw Angel and everyone starts to sing, as Mark runs to his projector, Collins collapses in Mimi's lap and starts to sob, both for his lost love and for the return of one of his best friends.
In Finale A: Collins's line, "I'm afraid she needs more than heat." You can hear the resignation in Collins's voice. He's seen it before, and he can't believe it's happening again, so soon.
The final shot of Angel in the movie, her nails are painted blue. The same colour that Mimi was painting them in the hospital when she was dying. The implication is heartbreaking— Mark shot that in some of Angel's final days.
On the exact day he met Angel, Collins decides to help himself and his friends by rewiring an ATM machine that will only work for those who have the code: A-N-G-E-L.
How do you leave the past behind when it keeps finding ways to get to your heart? It reaches way down deep and tears you inside out until you're torn apart (RENT!) How can you connect in an age where strangers, landlords, lovers, your own blood cells betray? What binds the fabric together when the raging, shifting winds of change keep ripping away?
The final performance of Seasons of Love on Broadway, including former cast members.
The end of the movie, when we get to see some of Mark's documentary, ending on a shot of a happy, healthy Angel gazing into the camera.
The fact that, despite how much they love each other and how happy they are, Angel and Collins don't even get a full year together. Bear in mind, the first act takes place over a single day; Angel and Collins meet, and they click instantly, falling madly in love — and, as we see in act two, it sticks! (Not to mention, they lack the constant bickering and drama of Mimi/Roger and Maureen/Joanne.) They were great together and had found real, true love... only for it all to be taken away, so soon. It's just... so unfair.
The fact that maybe five, ten years down the line the only surviving members of the friendship group will be Mark, Joanne and Maureen. Despite the happy ending, there's still the lingering spectre of Roger, Mimi and Collins' impending deaths. In the original version in which Maureen also had AIDS, that would leave just Mark and Joanne alive.
2019 Rent Live
Mark is more well-meaning in this version than others, owing to Jordan Fisher's performance. He seriously tries to help but a homeless woman reams him out for thinking she needs to be on camera.
Mark mutters that he's ready to sell his soul after Angel's funeral, as Roger leaves for Santa Fe. Jordan Fisher being Endearingly Dorky in the role makes it worse.
The performance segues "Seasons of Love" into a Life Support meeting, as opposed to just the cast standing on stage for it out of character, and has the different group and cast members take lines, giving the song more significance.
The live concert that aired for the audience, after Roger's actor Brennin broke his foot and needed to use a wheelchair, has some moments. During "Will I?" he looks like he's about to burst into tears as everyone else stands up singing, "Will I lose my dignity, will someone case, will I wake tomorrow from this nightmare?"