Within the Heights overview – a blast of sunshine, hope and hotpants

This adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2005 stage musical bursts on to the display like a confetti cannon. Director Jon M Chu (Loopy Wealthy Asians) delivers a blast of sunshine, hope and hotpants. However unpeel the song-and-dance romance and escapism and there’s a socially engaged, issue-led drama beneath the glint and pizzazz.

In fact it’s not unprecedented for superficially frivolous musicals to deal with severe points: Cabaret explored the rise of fascism in Germany. Quite a few Bollywood spectaculars have delved into the caste system, and West Facet Story offers with the immigrant expertise and gang-based tensions. It’s with the latter that In the Heights bears some similarities: each characteristic Latinx communities; each unfold on the streets of New York Metropolis.

However whereas West Facet Story is pushed by battle, on the core of In the Heights is a sentimental hug of neighbourhood unity – Washington Heights towards the world, and the double-pronged assault of gentrification and discrimination. It’s from this, and from the participating forged (Anthony Ramos is a selected delight; Olga Merediz single-handedly shifts the entire movie up an emotional notch or 10), that the movie derives its inviting heat.

Ramos performs Usnavi, the central character and the movie’s narrator, a bodega employee who goals of returning to his mother and father’ Dominican Republic homeland, however whose ties to Washington Heights – and particularly the beautiful Vanessa (Melissa Barrera) – are arduous to interrupt.

The messaging could be a little on-the-nose at occasions – a climactic electrical outtage provides the movie the chance to say that its characters will not be, actually, powerless. However maybe a stronger political assertion is the best way that Christopher Scott’s choreography claims and owns each sq. inch of the block. Reclaim the streets (with fabulous sneakers and superb Latin dance routines)!

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