West Side Story – Lacks Magic
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Tony Kushner (Screenplay) Arthur Laurents (Play)
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, Davie Alvarez, Rita Moreno, Crian d’Arcy James, Corey Stoll, Mike Faist
Plot: An adaptation of the 1957 musical, West Side Story explores forbidden love and the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds.
Tagline – A city divided. Their love will change everything
Runtime: 2 Hours 36 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Story: West Side Story starts as we head to the slums of New York where an American gangs called the Jets have a bitter rivalry with The Sharks, a Puerto Rican gang, which sees them clashing over their ethnic backgrounds. Riff (Faist) runs the Jets, while Bernardo (Alvarez) runs the Sharks, which will see them competing for attention at every occasion, leading to them attending a big dance event.
The dance event one of the Jets Tony (Elgort) meets one of the Sharks Maria (Zegler) with the two showing a natural spark, only to find out the gangs are due to have a massive street fight to end the problems, will their love help break the differences between the two gangs and end the war.
Thoughts on West Side Story
Characters & Performances – Tony is a member of the Jets, one that is looking for more in life other than street fights, he meets Maria a member of the rival gang that he falls in love with, no matter which side of the battle she is from. He wants to get out of this war, trying to do the right thing. Maria is the young woman Tony meets and falls in love with, she is the sister of the leader of the Sharks, she is protected by him and never allowed to date outside of the gang. She is willing to risk everything to get out from under his protection if it means love for her. Bernardo is the leader of the Sharks, while Riff is the leader of the Jets, both will let their egos control the war between the two sides, not letting them get a chance to have peace, as they believe they are the alpha males in the area. The performances in the film are very good, with the singing getting to show the talents of the people involved.
Story – The story here follows two rival street gangs that find themselves involved in a street war believing they have the right to be the most important people in the city. This is until one of the members falls in love with the sister of the other gangs leader, leading to bigger tension between the gangs who might finally be able to end the war or will it make things worse. It is well known this is a twist on the old Romeo and Juliet story with a forbidden love story between rival gangs, instead of families. The story doesn’t do too much different and makes a big point to show it is all about the territories, rather than a race rivalry. In the end this is a story that will give all the basic forbidden love ideas.
Themes – West Side Story is an all singing, all dancing musical romance, that will use the New York location to show the poorer neighbourhoods battling over the small amount of land, believing they should be in control, instead of learning to be around together.
Final Thoughts – West Side Story lacks the magic In the Heights bought us earlier in 2021.