#WestSideStory – Movie Review

West Side Story – Budget of $100 million – 2 hours and 16 minutes

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Riff and the Jets go through the Puerto Rican part of town and harass the locals.  Although the housing authority plans to evict everyone, Riff blames the Puerto Ricans for losing his territory.  After an altercation with a rival Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks, Riff wants to arrange a fight.  But he wants to do it with Tony by his side.  Tony was a Jet until he spent time in prison for nearly beating a man to death.  Now, he works in Doc’s pharmacy for Valentina.  Tony doesn’t want to be a part of the fight but considers going to a dance at a gym with both gangs attending.  

María lives with her brother, Bernardo, and Bernardo’s girlfriend, Anita.  Bernardo picked the perfect guy to bring Maríe to the dance, Chino.  Chino works as an accountant, but he wants to join the sharks.  Nevertheless, Bernardo, a boxer, won’t let him.  Bernardo tells María to stay away from gringos and only dance with Chino.  

At the dance, the Jets take over the dance floor.  But the MC tries to make everyone dance together in a social experiment.  However this causes to a dance battle on the floor.  When Tony arrives, he spots María and can’t take his eyes off her.  When María sees Tony, she sneaks off the dancefloor and under the bleachers.  Face-to-face, she realizes Tony isn’t Puerto Rican and doesn’t care.  They dance together.  But when Anita calls for María, the Sharks and Jets see the two together.  Bernardo erupts and tells Tony to stay away from María.  Anita pulls María from the gym, and Bernardo and Riff go to the bathroom with their gangs to talk.  Since neither will back down, they will have one final rumble for the territory. Bernardo agrees if Tony comes too.  They negotiate a time and place and leave the bathroom. 

Tony finds María’s home and convinces her to meet him later.  They decide to let love rule and date.  On their date, María asks Tony to stop the fight because he was the leader of the Jets.  But he doesn’t want to go against his friends.  He desires to run away with her and be together forever.  She understands that it’s unfair to ask but worries about her brother’s safety.  Seeing her anguish, Tony will go to the rumble and talk both gangs down.  Can love conquer all?

Based on the play and the 1961 movie, this film stays true to the original while fixing issues from the past (FTC Affiliate Disclaimer).  This movie covers race, love, gentrification, and gang dynamics using the same dialogue.  These two gangs fight over territory, but everyone faces eviction as the housing authority adds theaters, shops, and new apartments.  The gangs don’t realize they aren’t each other enemy.  Seeing this played out on screen is saddening because it happens today.  Because of larger sets, they can perform awe-inspiring dance numbers with compelling camera angles.  At times, the viewer feels like they are getting a close-up of the stage performance, not a movie.  Mr. Spielberg even takes set designs and backdrops from the original play.  If you are not a fan of the musical, this isn’t the one for you.  But give it a try.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars

Life matters even more than love – Valentina

Why would you do that – Tony

There’s nobody who everybody likes – María


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