Madonna staked much of her career on Evita, gambling that it would establish her as a proper movie star and a respected actress, as well as reviving her slumping musical career. Both the film and the soundtrack, while worthy efforts, fall just short of their goals, despite their numerous strong points. The double-disc soundtrack to Evita -- which essentially is an audio document of the entire film, since there is no dialogue in the movie -- is an exquisitely produced and expertly rendered version of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock-inspired musical, yet it remains curiously unengaging. Part of the reason is Madonna's performance. While she gives a startlingly accomplished and nuanced performance -- her voice actually sounds like it matures over the course of the album -- it is impossible to listen to her without getting the impression that she is trying really hard to be credible, which makes it difficult to connect with her. It doesn't help that her supporting cast of Jonathan Pryce and Antonio Banderas are only fitfully successful; Banderas' performance, in particular, suffers from being removed from the visuals. Even with the faults, Evita has its merits, including the written-for-film ballad "You Must Love Me," and is worth investigating. It just isn't the definitive work that it wishes to be.