Finally, she ends up married to Juan Peron, a shrewd politician and former military officer. Once Peron is elected President of Argentina, together they form a good cop/bad cop team. Juan often resorts to the methods of fascist dictators, while Eva has decidedly populist and socialist tendencies. Alas, the dream team is unexpectedly derailed when the still young and glamorous Eva is afflicted with a slowly progressing terminal illness.
How others will see it. Evita opened to mixed reviews, but cinema insiders respected its production values. It won one Oscar and was nominated for four others. It did even better at the Golden Globes, where it won Best Picture and Best Actress (Madonna!) in the comedy/musical category. The British Academy Awards also showered the film with nominations, albeit mostly in technical categories.
The film's lavish budget forced high box expectations. There, the film succeeded as well, doing particularly well overseas. However, the user ratings at imdb.com are middling. Those under 18 simply don't like it. Women between 18 and 45 enjoy it more than do men, unsurprising given the two leads (Madonna and Banderas) and the relentless succession of striking costumes. Madonna set a Guiness World Record for most costume changes in a movie.
How I felt about it. Evita is much better than it should have been. It should have been turgid, like other film adaptations (or for that matter, Broadway productions) of phenomenally successful Rice-Webber musicals. I have come up with five primary reasons why Evita is as good as it is:
#5. The lyrics are cynical instead of romantic. #4. Antonio Banderas is good at playing a jaded everyman. #3. Madonna has a fine voice, and excellent ballad instincts. #2. The budget was massive (more on this later). #1. The director was Alan Parker, who shows good judgment and had prior rock musical experience (Pink Floyd's The Wall).
Parker does a better than expected job primarily because he is given a nearly unlimited budget. If he wants a hundred different ten second shots featuring dozens of actors and extras in period costumes, he gets it. The budget was $55 million, equal to that of Ishtar (1987), and greater than Dune (1984, $45 million) and Heaven's Gate (1980, $35 million, all per imdb.com). Again, Parker gets what he wanted, and knows enough to keep the crowd scenes active and interesting.
Evita really has two soundtracks. One is very good and consists of Madonna singing ballads, and the other is mediocre and has little or no participation from Madonna. Fortunately for the film, her voice is present as much as it is not. No one will ever claim she is a great actress, but this is a film that needs her talent as a ballad singer.