Film Review – In The Heights
With so many movie musicals heading to the big screen over the next few months we thought it would be a good idea to tell you which ones are worth your hard earned pennies and which ones you are better off waiting for to hit your favourite streaming service.
So, with In The Heights hitting cinemas on June 18th there’s no better place to start..
There is a risk of disappointment when going to see one of your favouite stage-musicals that has been adapted to film, you’ve already fallen in love with the voices of the cast recording you’ve been listening to for years on end, could there ever be an actor who could come close to playing ‘Usnavi’ other than the creator of the hip-hop musical himself? Could there be a better Benny than Chris Jackson? – I went to the cinema with limited expectations.
The film opens on a Domincan beach with Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) Introducing the story of ‘Washington Heights’ to a group of children which leads nicely into the opening number “In The Heights.”
As in the stage musical you are invited to the entire cast throughout the opening number and Immediately, any preconceptions that Ramos could not equal Miranda as Usnavi are gone. It starts big, colour and choreography aplenty. It doesn’t take long to realise you are sat down to watch something special and it keeps growing throughout the film. In fact there is no disappointment regarding the casting to the point where you do not feel the need to make comparrissons…It might not actually do any favours to the originals if you did.
The only Broadway original to reprise their role is Olga Merediz who plays Abuela Claudia to absolute perfection with several sweet moments on top of a heart wrenching rendition of “Paciencia Y Fe.” This becomes a major part of the story and will leave you fighting back that unwanted lump in your throat.
Anyone familiar with the original plot will begin to question themselves very early on, there are several significant shifts from the Broadway production, each adding a previously missing complexity to the lives of each of the characters. You do begin to wonder if the film will end in the way you expect it to. Basically, it’s gripping for even the so called clued-up.
Despite not featuring as the lead, Lin-Manuel Miranda does feature as the Piragua Guy “Piraguero” who is battling for trade with “Mister Softee” which created a cameo for the original stage Benny; Christopher Jackson. This comedic scene is a touching nod and a crowd-pleaser for fans of the original.
The big numbers in the show “96,000” and “Carnival de Barrio” are abolsutely MASSIVE and will go down as cinema gold. The direction, choreography, colour and use of art in these numbers is unrivalled.