In The Heights Review: A Dizzying Portrait Of A Musical Arcadia

Here's our review of Anthony Ramos and Corey Hawkins starrer In The Heights

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In The Heights Review: A Dizzying Portrait Of A Musical Arcadia

Musicals in Hollywood have a hoary history. While we  wait to see  what Steven Spielberg does with the mother of all musicals West Side Story, here is something that will make your hearts hum and your souls  sing.

Straight off, In  The Heights capturing the highs and lows of the Latin American community in New York, is  a dream come true. Not because it is a majestic musical on a par with The Sound Of Music, The  King & I or more recently La La Land (which I find enormously overrated). But because it brings a certain sting and sweep to the epic musical genre as we move  from one  well-written musical number to another creating a  cascading blend of  zingy sounds and vibrant dancing by a  young cast that knows Bollywood is not the only bastion of ‘ditty’ dancing.

Ditties and dances throw open their arms  to welcome us in this Broadway-style musical. The plot may be just a pretext for the music and dancing. But who cares!  The film ricochets with a melodic  impact,imparting a sense of advancing sonorousness to the peppy proceedings, as we get to know the film’s young Dominican hero Usnavi(Anthony Ramos, naturally gifted) who dreams of owning his own business even as he scrubs and shines and polishes other  people’s dreams for a living.

 This is Cinderella with a gender reversal and a powerhouse musical  propensity that spins an affable web  around our  hearts as Usnavi’s silent crush for Vanessa(Melissa Barrera) is all but crushed under the wheels of their individual dreams.

 Though the film refuses to dwell on the despondency of the community’s poverty there is no dearth of heartbreaks in the narration as  the dreamers of the show scarcely ever get a chance to be doers. There is Nina (the beautiful  Leslie Grace) ready to throw  away her  dream of college education because  her father(Jimmy Smits) can’t afford  it, even though he insists he can.

Although the cast’s dreams are downcast, there is  no room for despair  of  despondency as  the  characters  are perpetually in the swing of things, defying dancing their way into  a light  at  the end  of the  tunnel,revelling in an  Arcadian bubble, almost like the  current  situation where weddings and parties thrive  as if Covid doesn’t exist.

In  The Heights is the ultimate musical experience. Hats off  to the Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M Chu for  doing  fulsome  and  voluptuous  justice to  the theme. Chu chews on the  chimerical  canvas,imparting a sense of  ongoing flourish and  excitement to the flimsiest  of  plot  conventions. Only one person dies  during the course of the 2 ½  hour  plot. Never weighed down  by melancholy  In The Heights, true to its title, stays afloat singing and dancing clawing its  way into hard-earned glory.

Image Source: Instagram/intheheightsmovie, youtube/warnerbrospictures