PG, course language.
Dir: Jon M. Chu, USA, 2021, 143 min.
Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace.
“In the Heights couldn’t be more perfectly timed. For one thing, summer movies don’t get much more summery than this one, which takes place during a record-breaking New York heat wave. For another, this vibrant screen adaptation of the Lin-Manuel Miranda stage musical captures something we’ve largely gone without over the past year: a joyous sense of togetherness… The action unfolds in crowded store aisles and gossip-filled beauty salons where everyone knows everyone. The musical numbers, which blend hip-hop, Latin pop, salsa and other styles, frequently spill out into the surrounding neighborhood. The actors become dancers in an electrifying street ballet… A lot of this is packed into the movie’s transporting opening sequence, which brings us into this pan-Latino barrio in Washington Heights… our guide to this Upper Manhattan neighborhood is Usnavi de la Vega, played by a terrific Anthony Ramos… As he raps about the challenges of running his scrappy little business in a place that’s rapidly being gentrified, he’s joined by a chorus of voices from the neighborhood singing about their own struggles to get by. As much as he loves Washington Heights and the people who live there, Usnavi longs to return to the beaches of the Dominican Republic where he grew up… One of the more poignant insights of In the Heights is that everyone has a different concept of home… There are lovely moments here, like when Benny and Nina do a surreal, gravity-defying dance along the side of an apartment building… and there’s a knockout solo from Abuela Claudia, the neighborhood’s adopted grandmother… She’s the living embodiment of this movie’s loving and enduring spirit.” – Justin Chang, NPR