West Side Story will undoubtedly touch many audiences around the world. The lyrical genius of the recently-deceased Stephen Sondheim through the eyes of director Steven Spielberg is a breathtaking and triumphant classic.
West Side Story is based on the classic 1957 musical and is set in New York City’s Upper West Side. The area is torn by rivalry and racism between the Jets, an Anglo-Polish street gang, and the Sharks, a Puerto Rican gang. Tensions between the two gangs escalate when a Jet named Tony, played by Ansel Elgort, falls in love with a Shark girl named Maria, played by Rachel Zegler.
No other film explores elements of love, hatred, segregation, inequality, and racism, as effectively as West Side Story. And it does so in the most invigorating and wonderful way through choreography and dance sequences that leave us simply breathless. I was hooked on each and every one of the sequences, and seeing the film in Dolby Digital made the musical experience even more immersive.
The selection of key characters for this film is perfect. Elgort is the serious Tony that West Side Story deserves. He has the mellow attitude, along with the drive and guts to make change. Zegler, in her feature film debut, has the innocence, the captivation, and many breathtaking moments of joy and sadness that will make Maria fans cry.
West Side Story is a must-see film that is most definitely Oscar-worthy. There has not been a more musically exciting film in quite a while, and this one has so many positive emotions. Audiences will laugh, cry, and smile. It will be one that is remembered for a long time. Four stars for West Side Story.