Tailored by playwright Tony Kushner, the movie — described as a “reimagining” of the unique — possesses a grittier edge, immediately connecting gentrification of New York’s slums within the Fifties to the 2 gangs battling over their shrinking turf as if their lives depend upon it. The casting and refined touches, like not subtitling the Spanish dialogue, additionally possess significantly extra cultural authenticity than a interval the place non-Latinx actors could be solid in pivotal roles.
Past that, the bones of “West Facet Story,” itself impressed by Romeo and Juliet, stay very a lot intact, with the combo of jaunty tunes and lushly romantic ballads courtesy of Sondheim and composer Leonard Bernstein, in its tragic story of affection at first sight.
Ansel Elgort and newcomer Rachel Zegler play the star-crossed Tony and Maria, whose instantaneous infatuation comes within the midst of racial strife between two gangs: the Sharks, headed by her brother Bernardo (David Alvarez), and the Jets, run by Tony’s longtime pal Riff (Mike Faist), who’s mystified by Tony’s want to go away that brutal life behind.
Whereas the dance numbers are muscularly choreographed, Spielberg has tamped down among the magic related to director Robert Clever’s model, a choice evident when Tony and Maria first meet on the dance. Again then, the world stopped round them; right here, they discreetly retreat to a quiet spot behind the gymnasium bleachers.
After all, “West Facet Story” has hardly been dormant within the intervening a long time, with stage revivals and extra high-school productions than anybody might depend. But Spielberg and Kushner have toed a fragile line in crafting a film that displays constancy to the unique whereas tinkering with it in ways in which invite comparisons to the variations — some fully logical, others a bit extra arbitrary.
Finally, “West Facet Story” passes the “why” take a look at and can seemingly depart followers debating which model they like. Even these of the opinion there wasn’t a burning want for a redo — reimagined or in any other case — ought to conclude there’s a spot for this one too.
“West Facet Story” premieres in US theaters on Dec. 10. It is rated PG-13.