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West Side Story

February 19, 2022

West Side Story (2021)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Actors: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose

West Side Story movie review: Steven Spielberg's remake proves the musical  shouldn't be retired.

Synopsis: In 1957 Manhattan, the Jets (a group of white working-class boys) feud with the Sharks (Puerto Rican immigrants) over control of the local area.

Review: Steven Spielberg offers a respectable and respectful re-tread of one of the classic Hollywood musicals, but beyond that proficiency and one or two minor deviations from the 1961 original (mainly around the casting of authentic Latin actors for the Puerto Rican characters), it’s hard to see what attracted Spielberg to the project, and, thus, what he was trying to convey to his audience.

There’s nothing particularly imaginative or idiosyncratic about Spielberg’s vision (a frequent facet of his bland oeuvre of late), and his West Side Story just lacks that sprinkle of magic dust that elevates the better films of this genre. Rachel Zegler is excellent as Maria, and Ansel Elgort is a wonderful singer (if a little dull in his role), but, overall, the ’61 cast were far superior. A case in point is that although I appreciate the casting of David Alvarez as a muscular and convincingly Latin Bernardo (his parents are both Cuban), I miss George Chakiris’s menace and graceful leonine qualities in his 1961 incarnation of the same character. (February 2022)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. David Slater permalink
    February 23, 2022 5:00 pm

    Goodness what a tone-deaf take on this movie. It’s superior to the 1961 version. Speilburg has now given us the definitive movie version of WSS.

    • Nicholas Brown permalink
      February 26, 2022 7:54 am

      100% agree with you David. Feels like he fell asleep and had to make up what he missed.

  2. David Brown permalink
    March 14, 2022 4:16 pm

    Both tone deaf and blind, it seems to me. The ‘61 version, I’ve always thought, was deeply misguided, its many Oscars notwithstanding. The cinematic technique here is breathtaking, and the performances, excepting the Tony, are stunning. Overall, light years better that its predecessor.

  3. March 29, 2022 8:39 am

    I’m just waiting for a comment from Nicholas Slater now.

    • David Slater permalink
      March 29, 2022 2:12 pm

      My comment is still correct.

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