I was initially apprehensive to learn that Steven Spielberg was directing another big-budget adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s iconic West Side Story.
There’s no denying that Spielberg is a phenomenal filmmaker but so is Clint Eastwood, who was unable to capture the heart and soul of Jersey Boys when bringing that to the big screen.
Turns out, we were in safe hands. I’m so sorry for ever doubting you, Steven.
If you’re unfamiliar with the classic story, (based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet) we’re first introduced to the Jets, a white gang fighting a turf war with their sworn Puerto Rican enemies, the Sharks.
Tony (Baby Driver’s Ansel Elgort) was a Jets gang member before finding himself in prison. Upon being released, he’s keen to put his past behind him – even more so after falling in love with a Puerto Rican named Maria (Rachel Zegler). But can Tony finally bring peace and harmony between these warring clans?
There are minor changes made to this adaptation – all of which make sense from a storytelling point of view.
Tony has a back-story, Maria has matured, and Rita Moreno (who played the fiery Anita in the ‘61 film) has been handed a new character – a drugstore owner named Valentina.
But while it has a subtle makeover, this movie stays true to its original source material.
The stunning cinematography felt like I was sat watching it in a theatre. So much so, both my friend and I commented on how tempted we were to clap after Leonard Bernstein’s musical numbers.
Despite the perfect score, I must stress that this will not be for everyone. If you’re simply not into musicals, not even Spielberg will win you over here.
But if you are, then this story provides a stellar theatre-going type experience in the cinema – and a truly breathtaking reimagining for this generation.
ESP Rating: 5/5
Showcase Cinema De Lux Peterborough, Out Now
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana Debose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Rita Moreno, Brian D’arcy James & Corey Stoll
Running Time: 2 Hr 36 Mins
Director: Steven Spielberg
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