Movie Review: West Side Story – Kenbridge Victoria Dispatch

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By Lauren Bradshaw

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The KV dispatch

When is a remake better than the original? Almost never. So the fact that Steven Spielberg improved on a musical classic like West Side Story is absolutely remarkable and a testament to the fact that he is the greatest filmmaker of all time. I mean, what kind of movie can’t this man conquer? If this had been the interpretation of West Side Story that I had seen as a child, I might have been as obsessed with it as my all-time favorite movie, The Sound of Music.

I don’t think I need to outline the plotline of West Side Story, but just in case, here’s a little refresher. Based on the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story follows two rival gangs in 1950s New York City, the White Jets, led by Riff (Mike Faist) and the Puerto Rican Sharks, led by Bernardo (David Alvarez). Each group competes for control of territory in their small area of ​​Manhattan. And things only get worse when Tony (Ansel Elgort), the former head of the Jets, returns to the area after spending time in jail for assault. At a school ball, Tony and Maria (Rachel Zegler), Bernardo’s sister, begin to fall in love, which only intensifies the fury between the two groups, neither of whom want their loved one to be. associated with “the other”. But will love win out in the end?

I’m admittedly a bit of a remake purist … which means I don’t want there to be any changes so big from the original that it becomes a completely different movie or changes some of my parts. favorite. : Ahem: I’m watching you Moulin Rouge on Broadway. Spielberg expertly breathes new life into the story, while retaining the essentials of the original. Not only did he improve the cast by hiring Hispanic actors to play Maria, Anita, and the Sharks, but the movie is shot differently than the majority of other musicals. Instead of making us feel like part of the audience, Spielberg’s camera, with that beautiful fluidity he’s known for, instead makes the audience feel like we’re dancing alongside the actors. And not only that, it pays homage to the original 1961 film on several occasions, in particular building the heart of the film around Rita Moreno’s reimagined role as Valentina and having her character sing arguably the best song, “Somewhere “.

When I tell you that the talent in this movie is on a higher level, I really mean it. The music is my favorite of any version of the show, both in the orchestrations and in the performances of each actor. So much so that I have a new favorite song from the show. Previously it had always been a mix between “Somewhere” and “Tonight”, but now my Spotify smokes from the number of times I have listened to “A Boy Like That / I Have a Love”. Again, I’m not someone who frequently changes my favorite songs in musicals, so just finding a new favorite in this version of West Side Story speaks volumes about Rachel Zegler’s incredible talent and Ariana DeBose (Anita), but also on that of Spielberg’s new interpretation of the story.

Every member of the cast brings something special, and in large numbers, I’ve found myself in absolute awe. The dancing scenes alone were some of the best I’ve seen on screen (think Grease’s gym scene on steroids and with everyone able to dance). But then you add the angelic voice of Rachel Zegler and the stealing of stage from Ariana DeBose, well, everything (dancing, singing, taking care of Bernardo) and the movie takes it to the next level. Much like Rita Moreno did in the 1961 version, DeBose eliminates her from the role of Anita and easily gives the performance everyone will be talking about when they first step out of the theater… and will be remembered for years to come. future.

In the end, Spielberg’s West Side Story doesn’t look like a profitable remake, but rather a love letter that recognizes the story’s problems, especially as a prism of the world we live in today, while celebrating one of the best musicals of all time. . Definitely try to see this beautifully shot movie on the big screen so that you can enjoy the action and hear these wonderful songs as loud as you can.

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