West Side Story Reviews
Although a musical it touches on many great themes & issues of the day e.g. racial intolerance, gang mentality & urban lower demographic living.
Splashed with color & iconic musical numbers this is also a breakthrough film for Natalie Wood. Although dated in aspects this film has tremendous pull & I'm sure would be an unforgettable experience on stage on Broadway.
"West Side Story" is undoubtedly a work of artistic genius. Every set piece is painted in rich, emotive color. The choreography bulldozes through the supposed limits of the human body. The music is (mostly) one show-stopping tune after another, burrowing like a mass of earworms into your brain. It's fun, fun, fun with a capital "F" and its influence can still be felt years later. "La La Land" in particular owes this film a huge debt. Without its groundbreaking camerawork and kinetic choreography, we wouldn't have "Another Day in the Sun" or any of its freeway-stomping madness.
It isn't all unmitigated fun though. I'm going to echo the words of my girlfriend in saying that the leads are the weakest part of this film, both in performance and how they're written in the screenplay. Tony and Maria are two wet blankets whose Romeo and Juliet love story has all the trappings of the classic story, but none of youthful lust that is supposed to make their coupling petulant but believable. Natalie Wood at least has a go at bringing a Latina fire to her role (she's Russian *cough cough*), but she and co-star Richard Beymor pale in comparison to the blazing spotlights of Anita (Rita Morenco) and Bernardo (George Chakiris). They are the film's real draw. Forget the setting, the bland retread of a story, or the sliver of logic that escapes everyone involved. "West Side Story" is the Morenco and Chakiris show.
If you sit down expecting a gorgeously mounted song and dance showcase and let trivial things like story and character development slide, there's hardly a more thrilling ride than "West Side Story." This is one case of a boatload of Oscars (11 in total) well deserved. 7.1/10
A well directed film with great performances and songs that modernizes the classic story of Romeo and Juliet.