West Side Story overview: Steven Spielberg reimagines the source in a vivid showcase for its stars

Adapted by playwright Tony Kushner, the movie — described as a “reimagining” of the primary — possesses a grittier edge, directly connecting gentrification of New York’s slums in the 1950s to the two gangs battling around their shrinking turf as if their lives count on it. The casting and refined touches, like not subtitling the Spanish dialogue, also possess considerably additional cultural authenticity than a time period where non-Latinx actors would be forged in pivotal roles.

As an additional reward, the filmmakers have not only provided Rita Moreno — an Oscar winner for the 1961 motion picture — as the drug-retail outlet proprietor, but cleverly expanded that purpose in a way that showcases her. If the intention was to provide a reminder that the 89-12 months-previous Moreno, a winner of each and every award conceivable, is a countrywide treasure, mission completed.

Past that, the bones of “West Facet Story,” by itself motivated by Romeo and Juliet, remain really significantly intact, with the combine of jaunty tunes and lushly passionate ballads courtesy of Sondheim and composer Leonard Bernstein, in its tragic tale of really like at initially sight.

Ansel Elgort and newcomer Rachel Zegler enjoy the star-crossed Tony and Maria, whose instant infatuation arrives in the midst of racial strife amongst two gangs: the Sharks, headed by her brother Bernardo (David Alvarez), and the Jets, run by Tony’s longtime pal Riff (Mike Faist), who’s mystified by Tony’s motivation to leave that brutal daily life driving.

While the dance quantities are muscularly choreographed, Spielberg has tamped down some of the magic affiliated with director Robert Wise’s edition, a conclusion evident when Tony and Maria 1st meet at the dance. Again then, the entire world stopped about them in this article, they discreetly retreat to a tranquil location driving the gymnasium bleachers.

It is really no slight to the male cast associates to say the girls outshine them. Zegler (who’ll abide by this debut with one more legendary purpose as Snow White) is positively luminous as Maria, and Ariana DeBose ably fills Moreno’s shoes as Anita, who possesses religion in pursuing an American aspiration that Bernardo and his rivals have specified up hope of attaining.

Of program, “West Aspect Story” has barely been dormant in the intervening decades, with phase revivals and far more higher-faculty productions than anybody could rely. But Spielberg and Kushner have toed a sensitive line in crafting a film that reveals fidelity to the unique whilst tinkering with it in methods that invite comparisons to the versions — some entirely rational, others a bit extra arbitrary.

The film marks the initial time Spielberg has tackled a musical in his storied and eclectic job, which helps make the exertion an situation on that stage. That he has performed so in a calendar year populated by numerous others, which includes “In the Heights” and “Tick, Tick … Growth!,” demonstrates how cycles change and the hunger for material has grown.

Ultimately, “West Aspect Story” passes the “why” exam and will probably leave followers debating which model they desire. Even individuals of the feeling there was not a burning want for a redo — reimagined or or else — need to conclude you will find a place for this a person much too.

“West Facet Tale” premieres in US theaters on Dec. 10. It can be rated PG-13.

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