Steven Spielberg’s WEST SIDE STORY is a fine piece of cinema and embellished with noteworthy performances and music score.

West Side Story (English) review {3.0/5} and review rating

West Side Story is a love story of two young people from different ethnic backgrounds. The film is set in 1950s New York City. Redevelopment of the city’s Upper West Side is underway and people from the lower classes living in the area have been asked to move. Two rival street gangs control the area – the Jets, which consists of whites and is led by Riff (Mike Faust) while the Sharks, which consist of Puerto Ricans and are led by Bernardo (David Alvarez). One of the founding members of the Jets, Tony (Ansel Elgort), has just been released from prison. He was arrested after killing a rival gang member belonging to a different ethnic community. He is now reformed and works in a drugstore, preferring to stay away from violence. In an upcoming dance show, both the gang members and their siblings make their presence felt. The organizers want to use this opportunity to create a bond between the two groups. But this effort proves to be in vain as whites and Puerto Ricans like to dance among themselves. Tony attends the event and becomes infatuated with Bernardo’s sister Maria (Rachel Ziegler). She has come over with her date, Chino (Josh Andrés Rivera), but she’s not interested in him. She looks at Tony and the two dance, away from everyone’s eyes and even kiss. However, they are caught, leading to a brawl between the two gangs. The two decide to fight it out the next night. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

story of the west

West Side Story is based on the stage musical of the same name by Arthur Laurents. The story is inspired by William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. Indian audience will also be reminded of Shah Rukh Khan-Aishwarya Rai Bachchan starrer Josh [2000] Since it has a street gang connection (the movie was also inspired by West Side Story). Tony Kushner’s screenplay is clean and gripping. The characters are introduced very well and most importantly, he informs the audience well about the problems faced by people from different ethnic communities and lower classes. The dialogues are sharp but the romantic ones are heartwarming. A lot of racial slurs are also heard in the film but it is as per the requirement of the script.

As expected, Steven Spielberg’s direction is supreme and old-fashioned. He handles the film in such a way that one feels like watching an old classic. The color tone also compliments this aspect. Plus, he uses the modern sensibilities of filmmaking and this fusion built on celluloid makes a delightful watch. Despite the presence of so many songs, one is completely immersed in most parts of the film. Anita (Ariana DeBos) and Bernardo’s love story and tracks are the best parts. On the other hand, at 2 hours 36 minutes, it is quite a long film. If you were involved in it from beginning to end, then there would be no problem. There are a lot of tracks and in the later part of the film, some songs seem unnecessary or shall we say, placed incorrectly. Hence, Indian audiences, who are not used to watching western music, may be restless in the second part. Agree that he accepted La La Land wholeheartedly [2016] But it was a short film of 128 minutes and had less songs. Another major problem with the film is that around 10-15% of the dialogues are in Spanish. And as directed by Steven Spielberg, those dialogues are not subtitled. This creates a language barrier and in India, it becomes a bit awkward as English subtitles are available for English dialogues but not for Spanish dialogues! Some Spanish lines are self-explanatory but are spoken in some significant sequences. Since the audience will not understand what is being said in these scenes, it will affect the effect.

West Side Story begins with a breathtaking shot that educates the audience about the setting and the era the film is based on. In the beginning, the fight of Gully Gang sets the mood with the tune of the dance itself. Tony and Maria’s entry scenes are lovely. But the movie begins when the two of them meet and when they meet at Maria’s fire escape. A variety of songs add to the fun. The scene in which the fight takes place in the shed of salt is astonishing. One expects the film to end soon but here it starts to drag. Song ‘I feel great’ Seems unnecessary here and should have been placed elsewhere, or maybe not in the movie at all. ‘A boy like that’ The narrative slows down too and it seems fitting for a stage version of the story. In the film, this is the only song that seems disjointed. The climax is spinning.

Movie Review West Side Story English 2

Ansel Elgort is excellent as the loverboy. He had previously played a completely romantic role in The Fault in Our Stars. [2014] And it remains one of his most memorable performances. Her performance in the film comes close, though here she has delivered a restrained act. Rachel Ziegler looks stunning and it’s hard to say that this is her first performance. She had a challenging role but she plays it with ease. Ariana DeBos is brilliant and definitely an Oscar worthy performance. She dances like a dream. David Alvarez and Mike Faist are fine in the roles of aggressive gang founders. Josh is an important part of Andres Rivera and does well. Rita Moreno (Valentina) is lovely. Brian D’Arcy James (Officer Krupke), Corey Stoll (Lt. Shrank) and Iris Maines (Anybodies) are good.

Leonard Bernstein’s music is one of the USPs of the film. The same songs, which were in the music, are played in the film and arranged perfectly by David Newman. many of the most memorable songs ‘Maria’, ‘America’, ‘Something Coming’, ‘Gee, Officer Krupke’ And ‘tonight’. ‘tonight’, in particular, is awesome and the idea that everyone looks forward to the night for their own reasons is a good watch. ‘America’ Well thought out and very well choreographed.

Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography is remarkable and has an old world feel. Adam Stockhausen’s production design is detailed and brings a bygone era to life. Paul Tazewell’s costumes are very charming and authentic. The Michael Kahn and Sarah brochures have not been edited in a hurry.

Overall, West Side Story is a fine piece of cinema and is embellished with remarkable performances and musical scores. The film has the potential to record decent footfalls in Indian cinemas, owing to Steven Spielberg’s engagement, promotions and the fact that it is likely to excel at the Oscars. However, the long length, too many songs and the absence of English subtitles for the Spanish dialogue would dampen the effect somewhat.

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