Updated: Aug 6, 2021
Washington Heights, NY is the backdrop for this Lin Manuel Miranda movie musical. Directed by Jon M. Chu it’s a beautifully shot musical that really captures the beauty and landscape of Washington Heights through the eyes of Usnavi de la Vega played by Anthony Ramos as he tells 4 children about the dreams and aspirations of Usnavi and his friends.
Source: Warner Bros. Pictures Youtube Channel
This film does give us a strong musical opening where we get an introduction of all the main players of the movie. The music, dancing and sets are catchy and beautifully done and help bring the story along. We find that the people of the Washington Heights are dealing with things that we all do in some way or another. We deal with differences with family, like between Nina played by Leslie Grace and Kevin Rosario played by Jimmy Smits who only wants his daughter to do better than he did in life, but she wants to stay home because of how she was treated at school. You have Benny, played by Corey Hawkins, who I didn’t know could sing, and Nina dealing with their relationship and if they can make a long-distance relationship work. Sonny de la Vega played by Gregory Diaz IV is Usnavi cousin who looks up to his cousin and Nina and they make him want to do better and go to college. The glue that keeps the neighborhood together is Abuela Claudia played by Olga Merediz who is a surrogate grandmother to the crew and brings emotion into the movie.
My favorite scene is the swimming scene, it reminds me of the old Esther Williams movies, and it was so colorful and beautifully shot. At one point in the movie there was a blackout and the day after, the neighborhood ‘s morale is low because of things that occurred the night before. This leads to a great musical scene, where I must say Jimmy Smits looked exceptionally good and danced a little. This movie touches upon many themes from Father/ daughter relationships, financial hardships and the feeling of being able to do better far from home instead of staying in the neighborhood. Immigration, racism and gentrification are also touched upon in this movie. The characters all feel that moving away when things change is best.
The music, the direction and cinematography are done very well. Anthony Ramos was very good in his first starring vehicle. The cast was great. I felt that Mark Anthony should have sang but I guess he didn’t want to. I wouldn’t be surprised if In the Heights is nominated for an Oscar for cinematographer Alice Brooks because of all the bright and lush colors of the movie. Is it a perfect movie no but the music and story capture you to where you care about the characters and the situations that get them to make their decisions of either staying in the neighborhood or leaving?
Will you be watching? Do you enjoy musicals? Let’s discuss!