‘West Side Story’

It’s big, it’s bold, it’s a visual treat with iconic songs (Maria, Somewhere) but, like its 1961 predecessor, it’s somewhat dull at two and a half hours.

The Romeo & Juliet story transposed to a 1957 Upper West Side New York musical, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds clash for control of territory slowly disappearing under the developer’s wrecking ball. The Jets are being displaced by the Puerto Rican newcomers, the Sharks. But not without a fight. So when Tony (Ansel Elgort – Baby Driver, Divergent) falls for Maria (newcomer Rachel Zegler) , few are happy, leading to a gang showdown and two deaths.

Director Steven Spielberg (Jaws, Ready Player One) is enormously respectful to the classic original whilst updating (slightly) the social consciousness of what is a racist storyline of white versus latino where love is supposed to conquer all. The two leads are surprisingly unconvincing – it’s Maria’s sister, Anita (Ariana DeBose – Hamilton, TV’s Schmigadoon) who steals every scene she’s in along with the Romantic casting of Rita Moreno – the original Anita – as Valentina, Tony’s landlady. But it’s always a difficult premise: a musical in today’s age of street gangs.

Nominated for 7 Oscars in 2022 including best film, director, production design, won 1 for best supporting actress (DeBose).

Rating: 54%


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