Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer/s: Tony Kushner, Arthur Laurents
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Rita Moreno, Mike Faist, Josh Andrés James, and more.
I do not shy away from the fact that I’ve missed out on a large amount of classic films that I probably should have seen as a so-called “movie fanatic,” but hey, I’m getting there. I never saw the original “West Side Story,” but obviously I’ve come to understand enough about it and its legend. Fast-forward to what was supposed to be a 2020 release, we now have the adaptation of “West Side Story” literally at our fingertips by way of Disney+ and HBOMax as well as others available for rent and ready for our souls to take in.
“An adaptation of the 1957 musical, West Side Story explores forbidden love and the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds.”
To be honest, of all the Best Picture nominees, I was most worried to watch this one. There was far too much working against “West Side Story.” Nearly two years of delays, the Ansel Elgort scandal, the “bomb” of a theatrical release, and a large mixed bag of good and bad reviews. I had no clue how’d I’d receive this one. I mean, I really enjoy film musicals. It’s a Spielberg film. What could possibly go wrong? Answer? Almost nothing. I loved “West Side Story.”
The music is wonderful and the performances are wonderful. Zegler and DeBose are simply magical in their numbers and acting bits. I personally loved Mike Faist as Riff. He had such a unique and commanding presence when he was on screen. This cast was very impressive.
Again, I did not see the original but mostly knew the gist of the story. I was curious to see how the full thing would play out, and it was quite engaging. It never lost my attention. I was hanging on just about every scene regardless of whether it was lighthearted, sad, happy, funny, etc. It had a good flow to it and followed the entertaining musical blueprint that is literally laid out for it. To mess this up would have been disastrous.
I have thought of many scenes, musical numbers, and characters on multiple occasions since my viewing of this film. This was a treat of a film. Now I wouldn’t exactly say it has the effect on me that “La La Land” had, but they do share the same rating. Check this out if you have that musical bone in you since it’s available in many places and obviously, it’s a Best Picture contender.
Edited by Erica McNatt
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