Madonna finally scores an onscreen triumph in Alan Parker's visually resplendent, slightly overlong but always entertaining adaptation of the hit Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical of the same name. A risky project with the potential to be disastrous, the film is illuminated by its key performers, especially Antonio Banderas, whose surprisingly robust singing voice and fierce sexual charisma give the movie a much-needed jolt of electricity. Evita illustrates a return to musical filmmaking for versatile director Parker (following Fame and The Commitments), who does a commendable job opening up the picture from its stage origins, and Darius Khondji's luminous widescreen photography captivates. This project was apparently on the shelf for decades, with performers like Meryl Streep and John Travolta attached along the way, not to mention several top filmmakers. In an act of sheer will, however, Madonna won the coveted lead role after writing a passionate letter to Parker explaining why she was the perfect woman to embody the charismatic and complicated Eva Peron. Additionally, the film's one original new song, "You Must Love Me", won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 1996 Oscars.