Movie Thoughts: West Side Story

Adrien Carver
2 min readMar 3, 2022

I had no desire to see this which is why I waited three months. No one asked for this remake. It’s a downside of impossibly powerful A++ list auteurs getting what they want all the time. I’m not alone given this film’s box office performance, the Academy’s increasingly irrelevant praise be damned.

I have to say. My attitude was unfounded. I was wrong. This is a solid fucking movie. A decent update to the 1960's classic. I think if it had been released in 2015 it would’ve been way more well received.

The dancing is amazing — dresses twirling, arms flailing, trumpets blasting. Broadway at its best.

I forgot how dark the story is. Romeo and Juliet indeed. Modern updates like the transgender kid are done tastefully and respectfully, not half-assed corporate pandering like the Amazon Lord of the Rings series.

Ansel Egort is a straight douchebag, someone who’s clearly never had to show kindness to anyone and sees nothing wrong with it. That said, the man can act all right and he has a nice buttery tenor voice. Rachel Zegler is the ascendant one here, plucked from youtube stardom (having a million views only grants you the rank of “promising” in our world of desperate viral achievement), and she shows us why she was picked. She’s young-looking enough that, at my age, I wanted to keep her away from Egort more than anything, but she holds her own. Her voice is songbird pretty, with impeccable control. She doesn’t quite nail emotional distress, but there are few 18 year olds who can. The rest of cast are Broadway actors whom I’d never heard of and they’re all top notch. Anita, Riff and Bernardo nail their roles. Corey Stoll pulls his weight as a racist jerk of a cop.

Never underestimate a pro like Spielberg, I guess. He was my favorite director in childhood, a master of all crafts and genres, master of emotions, master of set design, cinematography, casting, the rest of it. His versatility is unmatched, from Jurassic Park to ET to Munich to this.

I was a little bored but not the movie’s fault, had to do with already knowing the story so well. My mom and sister love the original. This is a good retelling, the timing is just a bit off.

3/5

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