Rapturously entertaining, moving, exhibiting an intoxicating flow, and a consciousness of staging that defies nan near-impossible task of recreating nan immediacy of this hallowed shape text; Steven Spielberg’s first philharmonic “West Side Story” exhibits effortlessness.
So 1 whitethorn beryllium asking why Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner would beryllium drawn to bringing this iconic philharmonic to nan surface for a 2nd clip aft nan shape accumulation has won countless Tony Awards and nan past adjustment won nan Best Picture Oscar?
Well, nan reply is that erstwhile faced pinch nan intimidation of a litany of imaginative icons associated responsible for each preceding interpretation, Spielberg is unafraid and wants a changeable astatine nan title.
“West Side Story,” for those pinch nary aliases simply passing familiarity, began arsenic Arthur Laurent’s 1957 mentation of “Romeo and Juliet” group connected nan streets of precocious 1950s New York City. It evolved erstwhile Jerome Robbins conceived of nan philharmonic mean displacement and enlisted legendary Leonard Bernstein for music, and nan titanic Stephen Sondheim for lyrics. Along pinch nan 1961 movie (co-directed by Robbins and Robert Wise), it’s a canonical American pop-cultural text.
Two taste thoroughfare gangs, nan Jets (the achromatic Americans – Irish/Polish) and nan Sharks (Puerto Ricans), are drawn into a conflict erstwhile founding Jet Tony (Ansel Elgort) falls for Maria (Rachel Zegler), nan sister of nan leader of nan Sharks Bernardo (David Alvarez).
Screenwriter Tony Kushner and Spielberg anchor nan folly and romance of this operatic taste conflict pinch a perennial communicative of gentrification. Its rich | themes research taste displacement, nan philosophical reflection of what it is to beryllium an American, entitlement (in each its acheronian manifestations), and nan harsh and convulsive reality of thoroughfare life encouraged successful these little socio-economic communities.
Spielberg’s mastery reflects nan conflict of nan Jets and Sharks successful nan colour of nan world they unrecorded in. With predominant collaborator, Janusz Kaminski nan Jets are composed to beryllium imprisoned by nan muted particulate of dilapidated buildings, faded bluish of moving (or retired of work) stiffs. The Sharks are vibrant, large and moreover nan Puerto Rican emblem requires a smear of achromatic to bring them backmost to earth. The epic calamity of powerfulness propagating governmental systems is that it pits nan number groups against 1 different endlessly successful a conflict for scraps from a array they’ll ne'er beryllium at.
Rachel Zegler’s capacity arsenic Maria is nan genuine find of nan film. Zegler is charming, arrestingly beautiful, filled pinch a hopeful verve that delivers connected goosebump-inducing tune and aft goosebump-inducing song.
Ansel Elgort is by nary intends bad arsenic Tony, it’s conscionable unfortunate that he’s overshadowed by almost each azygous personnel of this unthinkable ensemble. The pair’s brushwood astatine nan ‘Dance astatine nan Gym’ though – watching 1 different from crossed nan creation floor, bodies moving imperceptibly betwixt them, lights flickering, their regard locking – is possibly nan azygous astir triumphant infinitesimal of nan film.
Ariana DeBose’s Anita plays ringing leader for, perhaps, nan astir joyful and intricately composed number of nan film, “America”. Dancing done apartments and into nan recreated New York streets past bodegas, markets, nan crawling ‘hubbub’ of traffic, nan colours burst distant successful nan costumes, nan complexions, nan bluish sky. The opus is astir nan committedness of America, and it’s arsenic if nan grey dreariness of nan metropolis (the systems) cannot suffocate this divine ‘idea’.
David Alvarez’s reliable feline Sharks leader Bernardo is suitably awed by Anita. Yet, contempt Bernardo’s stature, his over-protective power of Maria (Zegler) and stubbornness, Anita (DeBose) disarms him (and nan audience) successful specified powerful ways.
The alteration successful this loop to make Bernardo a master boxer, is simply a usability of taste and people specificity. On nan 1 hand, you spot that he believes that he tin virtually and figuratively conflict his measurement retired of nan shackles of people successful America. In addition, it’s besides that his unit prime their champion pinch immoderate level of legitimacy, successful opposition to Riff (Faist) who tallies his grounds connected nan streets alternatively than nan ring.
Rita Moreno returns (Moreno primitively portrayed Anita successful nan 1961 version) arsenic Valentina, nan matriarch and span betwixt nan 2 warring factions of nan Jets and Sharks – bridging nan spread betwixt nan bequest of nan original movie and this one. Moreno’s Valentina is an exuberant, receptor magical beingness successful nan movie.
Her look has seen nan committedness and nan harsh reality of Hollywood, and truthful her Valentina has an aura of experiencing nan American dream for what it is alternatively than what it’s expected to be. Moreno’s rendition of “Somewhere” (shifted from Consuela to Valentina for this adaptation) shows Spielberg’s profound consciousness of storytelling; we request Valentina’s regret to underscore nan emotion, and it’s thing short of magical.
Mike Faist’s Riff, nan sole leader of nan Jets (in Tony’s absence – watch nan movie to find retired nan details), is incredible. Faist manages flawless accent work, dancing and terrific tunes. His activity characterising Riff treads nan precocious ligament enactment of ignorance, violence, deficiency of discuss and someway loveability that makes you guidelines for him contempt his inevitable push to oblivion.
The astir sizeable situation is recovered successful nan root material, really are we to judge this abrupt lightning rod of emotion betwixt its 2 cardinal characters? Why would we judge Maria’s emotion for Tony would let her to forgive nan ramifications of nan eventual conflict betwixt nan Jets and Sharks? It requires a suspension of disbelief that feels successful nan past to years to person been collectively beaten retired of us, which is possibly why it was refreshing to walk a mates of hours abandoning cynicism for love.
“West Side Story” is not truthful overmuch a ‘masterpiece’ but alternatively a “master’s piece” – a movie truthful formally and technically assured that it envelopes you. The cadence, nan unbridled magic, nan blend of calamity and tangible, uncompromising reality; Spielberg, successful lawsuit you forgot, is possibly nan top ever to do it.