As I was watching Spielberg’s West Side Story which had been adapted by Tony Kushner (writer of Angels in America), I looked for the tweaking to the dialogue from the 1961 classic, that no longer resonated. By giving a back story to Tony, adding gentrification, fleshing out the police characters, using the original Anita (Rita Moreno) as the wife of Doc—owner of the store where a pivotal scene takes place (check off interracial box), having the Puerto Ricans intermittingly speak Spanish and adding a raw grittiness to the rumble made for a rich and emotional moving experience. Production values are incomparable-super cinematography, gripping editing, and evocative recreations of New York in the 1950s. Sondheim’s lyrics and Bernstein music sound refreshingly current. The choreography may not have the brilliance of Jerome Robbins, but it is elegantly energetic. My only complaint is my favorite dance number-Cool-was no longer the pinnacle in this remake. I believe Spielberg knew he couldn’t touch that classic song and dance and didn’t want comparisons. His other directorial choices were all spot on. This the film of 2021.
DON’T LOOK UP | Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence | Official Trailer | Netflix – YouTube