In the Heights

In the Heights ★★★★★

Breathtaking cinema; a movie musical that completely embraces the format to create an epic set on just a few blocks, and totally grasps the emotional scope that a musical can surpass. It's incredibly rare when a film makes me tear up more on rewatch, but knowing the poetic way the tales go allows certain earlier moments to hit harder, anchored by the excellent cast and their performances. And when it's not aiming for emotion, it's immensely entertaining and frequently quite witty, with the numbers being choreographed and shot in eclectic ways that never feel like the wrong choice.

None of the music would mean anything without strong characters, and the four leads are fascinating. Grace's Nina has the strongest story and songs, but Ramos and Barrera as Usnavi and Vanessa are ultimately the anchor of the story. Even if it is ultimately the type of film where the leads aren't necessarily the most interesting part, they still bring home the emotional finale to the point where I realize they are subtly great in this. I still walk away wanting more of Hawkins' Benny, who would be my choice as scene stealer, but recognize that the only way that would happen is with a three-hour cut with intermission, like the musicals of old. I wouldn't be opposed to that though,

To name a favorite number would be impossible here. As said earlier, there are so many emotional and humorous highlights that around the ending of the movie, you begin to remember how fantastic the opening number was - and how much great scenes you saw between then and now. It's honestly overwhelming to write about, In the Heights feels like a movie musical we'll be talking about for years to come, and although I'm sure Chu will improve his directing capabilities as his career goes on, it's hard to imagine there being another movie as marvelously entertaining and emotionally potent as this. Just an absolutely electric watch, which I can't wait to revisit as many times as possible in the theater. Phenomenal.

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