Review: In The Heights

The man of the musical moment Lin-Manuel Miranda brings us his multiple Tony award winning stage musical In The Heights to the big screen. Directed by John M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians) it looks like the movie musical is back in a big way.

In Washington Heights, N.Y., the scent of warm coffee hangs in the air just outside of the 181st St. subway stop, where a kaleidoscope of dreams rallies a vibrant and tight-knit community. At the intersection of it all is a likable and magnetic bodega owner who hopes, imagines and sings about a better life.

What a breath of fresh air In The Heights is. A bold exuberant movie musical, the likes of that hasn’t been seen for sometime. John M. Chu brings to life Miranda’s bold canvas utilising every single bit of screen to bring a huge scale to the production. The colours explode off the screen, the feel and smells of the surroundings exude from every pore.

Every note, every chord in every key are fantastic not one single frame is wasted as In The Heights takes you on a magical journey, that you never want to end. The bombastic dance numbers are sublime, huge in scale and fantastic to watch, not since The Blues Brothers have we seen massive dancing in the street done so well. Each number never replicates itself in anyway and Chu’s previous experience with the likes of the Step Up sequels are fully on display with an eclectic mix of dance styles all mixed up neatly with the harmonies and earwormery toe tapping eminently humable tunes. He even manages to shoehorn in a bit of Hamilton into proceedings too.

The cast are nothing short of spectacular as well with Anthony Ramos leading the line as Usnavi, a role he previously played on stage alongside Vanessa Hudgens in 2018. Corey Hawkins as his best friend Benny is a solid addition with his up the wall dance alongside Leslie Grace as Nina is one of the films highlight sequences. Rounding out the main cast is newcomer Melissa Barrera as Vanessa, who not only has an incredible singing voice but effortlessly casts you under her spell as much as she does Usnavi. Then there’s Jimmy Smits (Bail Organa to some, Victor Sifuentes to others) as Kevin never fails to put a smile on your face whenever he’s on screen.

And what of Lin-Manuel Miranda? Well he crops up throughout as Piragüero a Piragua (a Puerto Rican shaved ice dessert) guy, to lend his incredible talents to proceedings throughout. John M. Chu brings together an incredible cast coupled with Miranda’s brilliant source material to create a sizzling world of dance and celebration that only the most miserable of souls would fail to enjoy.

In The Heights is a triumph of movie making that you will simply want to watch again and again. Certainly one of the movies of 2021 so far.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

In The Heights is in cinemas now

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