Get ready for the spectacle of colour and lights that is In the Heights. The film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, directed by Jon M Chu, is a magical endearing performance that will leave you literally dancing in your seat with delight.
A film version of the Broadway musical in which Usnavi, a sympathetic New York bodega owner, saves every penny every day as he imagines and sings about a better life.
Rata-tap-tap – the beat brings us into the block of Washington Heights, as we follow young Usnavi de la Vega (Anthony Ramos) who owns a small bodega, and who dreams of returning home to the Dominican Republic and yearns for the sexy yet sophisticated Vanessa (Melissa Barrera). The film takes us through a period of days in the streets revealing an eclectic set of cultures and the little dreams of this humble community. Usnavi is struggling to earn money to return home and renew his father’s business. Nina (Leslie Grace) has returned to her beloved community having attempted her dream of studying at Stanford and been thoroughly disappointed at the harsh realities away from home. Love stories are woven in amongst the musical flare, with Nina and Benny (Corey Hawkins) rekindling their flame and Usnavi desperately attempting to peak Vanessa’s interest.
There’s a nostalgic tone to the storytelling. Characters reflect on the lives they’ve lived and have a rose coloured lens on the past. Family is central and the community is a hub of rhythm, music and connection. Of course, this hit would not be complete without recognition of the diverse choreography sets created by Christopher Scott that are sure to light a fire in the audience. We see a diverse range of Latino styles captured here. Lite feet, salsa, a hint of flamenco and the all exciting swimming pool flash mobs. The lead actors have clearly been well trained and supported by a range of talented dancers whose dance complements the rhythm and tone of the story. Director Jon M Chu intimately balances the serious themes of the story with vibrant pops of colour and a wink of humour to create a rich cultural picture.
Many stories are told by the wonderful screenwriter Quiara Alegría Hudes, with the assistance of the great Lin-Manuel Miranda. Stories of lives lived, loved, lost, and the sacrifices we make for family, and the inevitable grind we make for our dreams. With interesting graphics and a kaleidoscopic of colour and fireworks, In the Heights is bound to be the feel-good family film we have all been waiting for. In a world where hardship is acknowledged, these dreamers remind us to hold onto our el suenitos (little dreams) and embrace where we are now.
So go forth for to the cinema and get ready to groove in your seat with the ultimate block party of fun, love and hope that is In The Heights.
Image: Warner Brothers