Within the run-up to the discharge of Steven Spielberg’s West Aspect Story, the query as to why the filmmaker would tackle the challenge as his thirty eighth characteristic has been a reliable one. Clearly there’s the draw for him of constructing a large, lavish musical – an area he has by no means absolutely explored in his 57 12 months profession – however on the similar time the challenge is just not solely a remake, however a remake of a film that received the Academy Award for Greatest Image following its launch in 1961. Spielberg is a director who has the business energy to make any movie he needs to make, so why tread on such hallowed floor simply within the identify of style exploration?
This isn’t actually a query that could possibly be answered prematurely of the movie being screened, as a result of because it seems the one response vital is the viewing expertise of the brand new West Aspect Story. The essential plot stays the identical because the traditional 1957 Broadway musical, taking William Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet and transposing it into mid-Nineteen Fifties New York, however what’s completed so far as exploring the cinematic artwork kind is totally breathtaking. In his newest collaboration with screenwriter Tony Kushner and cinematographer Janusz Kamiński (amongst others), Spielberg has created one among his most spellbinding works thus far, each visually and aurally – replete with spectacular sequences and an ensemble solid that’s actually phenomenal… save for one outlier efficiency that proves to be a standout weak hyperlink within the chain.
Like its on-stage and on-screen predecessors, West Aspect Story begins with a turf warfare, as tensions rise between the Jets, a gang consisting primarily of white inner-city youth, and the Sharks, who signify the rising inhabitants of Puerto Rican immigrants in Manhattan’s Lincoln Sq.. As the town continues to develop and bear city renewal, ushering in a brand new age for the wealthy in New York, the very survival of the 2 teams turns into depending on elevated territoriality, and persona and racial tensions solely serve to extend the warmth between the 2 factions. The leaders of the 2 sides – Riff (Mike Faist) and Bernardo (David Alvarez) – are ready for a battle to the loss of life.
Caught in the midst of this battle are Maria (Rachel Zegler) and Tony (Ansel Elgort), a pair of star-crossed lovers who fall for each other at first sight throughout a faculty dance. Maria is Bernardo’s sister, and Tony is the previous co-founder of the Jets now attempting to dwell a peaceable life – having lately given up his management place after almost killing a rival and finishing a jail sentence. The couple rapidly falls deeply in love and so they make plans to run away collectively, however the feasibility of such an endeavor is questioned as warfare and violence looms palpable within the ambiance.
Fearing for the individuals they care about and never wanting to go away earlier than circumstances are settled, Maria and Tony work to deescalate the fraught relationship between the Jets and the Sharks, attempting to persuade them to name off the key rumble that’s scheduled as a last showdown between the gangs. However whether or not or not that’s truly attainable is a notion fraught with excessive doubt because the characters all barrel towards tragedy.
Steven Spielberg’s West Aspect Story is a surprising cinematic time machine that typically feels unreal within the vitality it efficiently captures.
When West Aspect Story was first imagined for the stage by Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents, it was a recent story meant to seize an vitality in Nineteen Fifties America. Steven Spielberg’s imaginative and prescient clearly adjustments that perspective by sustaining the setting, rendering it a interval piece, however that solely serves to provide it entry to an entire new form of magic. It’s not simply gorgeous (and low-key horrifying) how related the social themes of the piece are when what we’re coping with in our society at the moment – significantly with reference to class warfare, policing, gentrification, and immigration – but it surely’s finished in such a method that it doesn’t really feel like a recreation. Watching the movie, you marvel if Spielberg received entry to time journey expertise and simply determined to not inform anyone about it.
The remake doesn’t shrink back from what it owes to the 1961 movie from administrators Robert Clever and Jerome Robbins, because it carries over loads of iconic imagery from the traditional film – but it surely builds on the fabric with a sweeping scope (accented with good crane work by Janusz Kamiński) and is an totally transportive expertise. Every part from the manufacturing design to the costuming to the make-up bleeds with exceptional authenticity that pushes the current out of your thoughts.
Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose are destined for unimaginable issues within the wake of West Aspect Story.
One in every of Steven Spielberg’s genius touches in West Aspect Story is primarily casting his ensemble with newcomers. Not recognizing main characters from different initiatives and productions serves to superbly improve the phantasm that audiences are witnessing a window into one other period. Clearly it’s a dangerous proposition to work with expertise unproven on the massive display, however the instincts of the filmmakers show to be phenomenal. This isn’t to say that veterans like Corey Stoll, Brian d’Arcy James and Rita Moreno don’t present excellent performances respectively enjoying Lieutenant Schrank, Officer Krupke, and Valentina (who’s a reconceived iteration of the character Doc from the theatrical manufacturing/1961 film), but it surely’s the contemporary faces who personal the movie.
Ariana DeBose, who performs Anita (Maria’s finest pal and Bernardo’s girlfriend), is in the end the champion scene stealer – as she has a charming display presence that goes supernova throughout her good rendition of “America” – however that on no account diminishes the feminine lead, as Rachel Zegler delivers a beautiful and haunting flip as Maria that may lengthy persist with audiences. As the 2 main figures at loggerheads, Mike Faist and David Alvarez are each magnificent, and particular credit score have to be given to Kevin Csolak, John Michael Fiumara, Jess LeProtto, Ben Cook dinner, Myles Erlick, Patrick Higgins, and Kyle Allen because the Jets gang members who deliver the home down with the “Gee, Officer Krupke” musical quantity.
Merely put, Ansel Elgort doesn’t get the job finished as Tony in West Aspect Story.
Sadly, there’s additionally a form of spell-breaker in West Aspect Story, and his identify is Ansel Elgort. The actor, finest recognized for his flip in Edgar Wright’s Child Driver, definitely demonstrates some fantastic vocal expertise within the movie, significantly in belting solo and duet numbers “Maria” and “Balcony Scene (Tonight),” however his larger presence within the ensemble appears like a flawed puzzle piece. He doesn’t merge into the film’s magical circulate like all people else does, and it’s routinely a distraction that takes away from the character, which is a fairly large deal contemplating that he’s the male lead. You register it as quickly as he arrives within the movie (which comes after a wide ranging opening sequence), and it doesn’t go away.
Achilles heel within the casting apart, the film musical is a triumph that solely a legend like Steven Spielberg might pull off, and it marks yet one more spectacular spotlight for his iconic legacy. The last word reply to the query “Why would Spielberg remake West Aspect Story?” is “As a result of he can,” and watching the movie you possibly can’t assist however respect that.