West Side Story – Movie Reviews by Ry!

West Side Story – May Love be Real … Tonight

In the heart of one, is a passion that burns for another.  Within this journey, there are moments of harmony and pain.  This aspect of human endeavor can be obvious, but with a great eye and a creative approach, it can be spectacular.  In this review, I look at the latest Steven Spielberg film.  With this latest iteration, he puts his talents to the test in adapting a classic.  With an astute eye, he creates a journey of a pure escape.  Even when things are familiar, this adaptation of West Side Story is a magical tale of life, love and musical delight. 

With motion pictures, we have a hope of falling into its story.  This is something becomes truer when an adaptation takes on a two-fold approach.  With this latest film, Spielberg creates a story that respects the original but moves beyond with his unique directive approach.  With his vision, he plots a journey through methodical direction that blends musical scenarios within characterization.  In the beginning, you are introduced to the characters (through musical setups), getting an explanation of the social conflicts of the 1950s in New York City.  At the center of this is the tension between two gangs: Jets and the Sharks.  They are fighting for territory in the Upper West Side, which creates a ripple throughout the neighborhood.  From their initial interactions, each conversation provides an aspect of fragility that gives an understanding of their position.  With Riff (Mike Faist) and the Jets, they feel being left in the dust by the rest of the world.  On the other side, Bernardo (David Alvarez) and the sharks are just trying to have a safe place for their community.  The conflict creates a strong layer of the social class system, showcasing how trivial the ‘gang fighting’ is against the truth.  The position is a blind surface that strays away from the real threat; the city tearing down their homes to modernize for the changing of the times.  With everything at a boiling point, what centralizes the turmoil is the unexpected relationship between an unlikely pair: Tony (Ansel Elgort), Riff’s best friend, falling in love with Maria (Rachel Zelgar), Bernardo’s sister.  When they meet at the school dance, their romantic spark sets off a domino effect that levels out human emotions within the social dynamic.  This leads to moments that characterize life and love through music and dance sequences.  From this point, the balancing act (drama/musical) creates a ribbon like motion where Spielberg creates a journey that is pure with human drama, but lively in the colorful escape of song and dance. 

As the story weaves through moments of hope, there is a sense of a light worth believing.  That lasting of chance is delicate, but it also highlights the strength of blended conversations and musical quips.  The riveting moments are an endurance race against the boiling conflicts, creating a struggle of finding peace within pride.  When certain things fall into place, it creates a path of uncharted consequences.  As the directive pushes music along a dramatic thread, it draws you in through the highs and lows of raw emotions.  The moments between each character are leveled through an ironic hollowness that is both wholesome and heavy.  The familiarity of choice only makes the outcome that much richer, a Spielberg touch that showcases character moments through song and dance.  With this, the third act moves beyond the obvious to create an emotional climax that showcases the strengths of the human heart.  This iteration of West Side Story is a musical drama that becomes a triumph of storytelling.  With strong characters, amazing sequences and heartfelt moments, you won’t be disappointed.  If you are a fan of Spielberg, musicals or love the original, this is one for you.  This is a film that will be a classic of its own, an award worthy experience.

Full Score – 4.5 out of 5 (Award Worthy)

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