In The Heights - 2021 Movie Review

 Going into the cinema has become even more of a luxury now that lockdown is lifted, and with a list of films as long as my arm that I want to see, I really must get a move on! That being said, as soon as I could book tickets to see In The Heights, I ordered them straight away. I grabbed a work bestie, Max and some popcorn and we headed to our local Odeon to dance the night away (in our seats of course!). 

In The Heights is based on the Tony award winning stage musical of the same name. It follows a small community based in the Washington Heights suburb of New York and allows you to watch how their lives, relationships and futures unfold. From those wishing to make a better life for themselves, and those wanting to return to their roots. Everyone has a different story to tell and a different little dream to follow. 

The film opens with Usnavi, the local bodega owner telling a story of Washington Heights to a group of children. He tells them of everyone in the community from his cousin Sonny, to Vanessa the girl he longs for and Abuela Claudia, who acts as the community matriarch as she watches over everyone. He tells of the dreams that everyone has over one long summer, and how things can take twists and turns that you could never imagine. 

With a sense of passion and humanity, this film covers everything from immigration to fighting for your rights. It's about identity and resilience, and forging a life from the sacrifices that your parents make for you. It's so much more than a movie musical, it's a film that will spark passion, creativity and the want for change. It will touch those subjects that need to be spoken about, and leave you feeling like your breath has been taken away as you fall in love with the stories that each character has to tell. 

There is a show stopping soundtrack from the minds of Lin Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegria Hudes, who collaborated with the genius Alex Lacamoire. With Lin's classic blend of traditional musical meets hip hop and latina music, this soundtrack is a non stop rollercoaster of hits. It must be noted that a fair few fan favourites have been missed out of the film, but I can honestly say that it doesn't affect the movie in any way and the story has stayed as true to the original as it can. 

With an absolutely jam packed, star studded cast from TV, film and broadway, you are in for a treat with this film. From the toe tapping opening number to the dance along closing song, you feel the music as it brings the cinema to life. I was super impressed to see some of my favourite TV stars lend their voices to the film (and blow me away with their performances), but the stars of the show have to be the enigmatic Anthony Ramos as Usnavi and Melissa Barrera as Vanessa. Their performances oozed with chemistry and musicality that left me completely speechless. 

One thing that must be mentioned is the cinematography. I can honestly say that watching this film was like being transported into the Heights. It's truly a feast for the senses as you are surrounded by bright colours, high energy dancing and stunning whole cast routines. In The Heights is one of those movies that has been released at the perfect time. It's a celebration in a world that is currently shrouded in uncertainty and it left me with a feeling of hope and ambition. 

At nearly 2.5 hours, this is a long film. But one that Max sat and watched throughout, and you honestly forget how much time has passed as you are too engrossed. Having said that, I would be cautious about taking those that are younger than Max as they could get restless due to how long it is. The film itself is  a PG, and touches on themes of loss with some scenes of protesting and death. It's a film that we are already looking at booking again, we loved it that much. Max hasn't stopped singing the soundtrack and I adored it from start to finish. 

Lights up on Washington Heights, it's time for the audience to take their seats. 

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