West Side Story review: Steven Spielberg reimagines the source in a vibrant showcase for its stars
Adjusted by playwright Tony Kushner, the movie — referred to as a “reimagining” of the initial — has a grittier edge, straight linking gentrification of New york city’s shanty towns in the 1950s to the 2 gangs fighting over their diminishing grass as if their lives depend on it. The casting and subtle touches, like not subtitling the Spanish discussion, likewise have substantially more cultural credibility than a duration where non-Latinx stars would be cast in critical functions.
Beyond that, the bones of “West Side Story,” itself influenced by Romeo and Juliet, stay quite undamaged, with the mix of jaunty tunes and lushly romantic ballads thanks to Sondheim and author Leonard Bernstein, in its terrible tale of love at very first sight.
Ansel Elgort and newbie Rachel Zegler play the star-crossed Tony and Maria, whose immediate infatuation is available in the middle of racial strife in between 2 gangs: the Sharks, headed by her bro Bernardo (David Alvarez), and the Jets, run by Tony’s long time friend Riff (Mike Faist), who’s perplexed by Tony’s desire to leave that ruthless life behind.
While the dance numbers are muscularly choreographed, Spielberg has actually tamped down a few of the magic associated with director Robert Wise’s variation, a choice obvious when Tony and Maria initially fulfill at the dance. At that time, the world stopped around them; here, they quietly pull back to a peaceful area behind the fitness center bleachers.
Naturally, “West Side Story” has actually barely been inactive in the stepping in years, with phase revivals and more high-school productions than anybody might count. Yet Spielberg and Kushner have actually toed a fragile line in crafting a motion picture that shows fidelity to the initial while playing with it in manner ins which welcome contrasts to the variations — some totally rational, others a bit more approximate.
Eventually, “West Side Story” passes the “why” test and will likely leave fans disputing which variation they choose. Even those of the viewpoint there wasn’t a burning requirement for a renovate — reimagined or otherwise — need to conclude there’s a location for this one too.
“West Side Story” premieres in United States theaters on Dec. 10. It’s ranked PG-13.
Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.