West Side Story (2021)
Okay, I'm a little late. This is the last of the ten nominated films for Best Picture at this years' Oscars that I will have seen. I was in no hurry really, except to really see the differences between this and the original and whether Ansel Elgort could really pull off a Tony that we would recognise.
Steven Spielberg's first foray into musicals is a true marker of where he stands today as director. Arguably the most successful project lead the world has ever seen, so decides to do something completely different and truly challenge himself in what must have been an alien concept.
The visual treats he shares ensures we can be confident that he's grasped what this very particular audience appreciates. The unabashed pomp and sumptuous colour, as vibrant as Latin rhythm is unavoidable and why would you try? Immerse yourself in this for a little while and the world is helplessly a better place. If a director can whisk you away from your own sordid little grief hole for just a while, isn't that magic in itself?
The addition of Rita Moreno was a nice touch and the nod will not have gone unnoticed. If anything clouded this for me was the really jolting image of Ansel Elgort as Tony. I was worried that this would be the case and felt that try as he might, he just couldn't pull this off. He seems as oddly cast, a polar opposite decision to the casting of Rachel Zegler, who is spot on as Maria.
Can't fault the singing and the dancing as the ensemble is formidable, the cinematography and production design are exemplary and it goes without saying that the direction is miles above average.
Recommended for everyone really. If you can get past the occasional drag from immersion by Elgort. Having seen tick tick BOOM, I wonder what Garfield would have done if he'd had the opportunity. It may just have received full marks in that event.