There is an unstoppable joy that threatens to break out in most Latinxs when they hear someone scream.bendición? in a movie. Even more so when in a film like “In the heights, “One of the biggest Hollywood productions of the last few years, showing Latinx’s front and center in a refreshing way. The truth is that not all Latinx like the characters in can sing or dance Jon M. ChuAdaptation of this Broadway treasure. Even so, the lively singing and dancing isn’t what makes this musical special, although Puerto Ricans are known for their incredible ability to move their bodies to almost any sound. “In the Heights” creates the impossible as it accurately depicts the Dominican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, and many other Latin diaspora in the United States.
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¿Bendición?which literally means “bless me” is often used as a token of affection – a request to your parents or grandparents before leaving home – and is first heard in the Usnavi movie played by the magnet Anthony Ramos (“Hamilton,“”A star Is Born“), Visits Abuela Claudia (Olga Merediz), the matriarch who looked after him and other children who grew up in the Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights. Usnavi, who breaks out into singing every now and then, is a bodega owner who dreams of selling the shop and returning to the Dominican Republic. In a very Latin American way, “In the Heights” isn’t just about Usnavi (a play on the US Navy). Latinx culture rarely travels alone and our stories are never just about us, but rather about our collective experiences. It is this strong sense of community that defines Latinxs everywhere, and that is better reflected in this two-hour and twenty-minute celebration of cultural heritage.
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A series of supporting characters with their own hopes and dreams populate the streets of Washington Heights in this adaptation, written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Quiara Alegría Hudes from their own play, which producer Lin-Manuel Miranda Co-author. The three-time Tony Award winner of Puerto Rican descent is briefly seen in the film as Mr. Piragüero after aging out of the character he made famous more than a decade ago. This mosaic of colorful characters also includes the emotionally conflicted Nina (Leslie Grace), the first of her family to go to college, and die-hard Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), Usnavi’s love interest.
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They all come together as a result of a power outage that feels too close José Luis González’S“La noche que volvimos a ser gente”(The night we became human again) to be a coincidence. In the acclaimed short story, a group of immigrants living in New York are brought together during a power outage that clears the starry night for the first time since they left Puerto Rico. The sudden lack of electricity in history hits home in more ways than one. The obvious in the form of recent memories of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island in 2017 and left the island powerless for months. The other is how everyone comes together in the face of adversity and finds support and even entertainment in one another. Thanks to Quiara’s script, which ingeniously transforms an inconvenience into a colossal festival where all races are on display in full.
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Although the execution of this adaptation is not perfect, the musical numbers in this adaptation reach new heights as they each respond to the popular music of the character’s country of origin. For example, Usnavi usually sings to the beats of merengue and bachata Boricuas Do the same with salsa and bomba y plena. Even matriarch Abuela Claudia pays homage to her Cuban roots with an emotional rendition of the song “Paciencia y fe” (Patience and Faith), which mixes salsa and bolero with profound and heartbreaking results. That musical number, one of the highest points in the movie, also helps fuel the ongoing immigration issue, but especially the places and / or people we leave behind to find better opportunities.
director Jon M. Chu (“Crazy rich Asians”), Son of parents with a migrant background, fits here almost like a glove, but is held back by some of the surprising lack of ingenuity in the numbers. Chu brings the same music video aesthetic to a movie whose numbers need to feel as grounded as the characters they stage with a huge backdrop for dance films and concerts. The choreographies that work the most focus on partying rather than moving the story, such as when the entire community sings about proudly hoisting their flag, which for Latinxs means more never to lose your identity than excessive patriotism.
The result for years paciencia y fe is a film adaptation that shies away from portraying Latinxs as drug lords or gang members, but as hardworking members of a community with dreams as big as the voices of others and artistic voices longing to be heard. This is undoubtedly one of the greatest virtues of In the Heights, the first of two musicals featuring the Latinx experience to be released this year, and possibly the only one to be praised for its accuracy. [B+]
“In the Heights” will be in theaters June 11th and will be streamed on HBO Max for 30 days.