BrayMitch01’s review published on Letterboxd:
2021 Movies List- Click HERE
In the Heights is a blast. Ever since I saw this film’s trailer I had been pretty excited for it but I didn’t know if it would be a success or not until several bright reviews started rolling in a month or so ago. Upon reading these reviews I saw many that mentioned it was the first major Oscar contender of the year so naturally as an Oscar fanatic my anticipation kept growing and I wasted no time to purchase tickets. This film turned out to be the outstandingly made, large scale musical I had hoped for and so much more. The characters, story, technical aspects, direction, and of course musical numbers all were excellent and vividly prove that this film isn’t one that’ll be forgotten anytime soon. My grandmother and I went to the theaters to properly witness this film, it was her first time back to theaters since COVID, and had an absolute blast. I hadn’t seen a (non animated) musical in theaters for years so it felt all the more incredible to fully connect with the remarkable music and popping color scheme.
The fact that we had this great experience in theaters may have influenced my love for this film a little bit so I’ll definitely to check it out on the small screen soon to see if any of my opinions change although I doubt many of them will. As of right now this film is my favorite of the year and I’m sure it’ll stay close to the number one spot for the remainder of the year. The plot is great it’s a packed and very entertaining story. The story is about the lives/ambitions of people in Washington Heights, centrally the story of bodega owner, Usnavi, faced with the option of returning to his home country. It’s a story that tackles many themes such as themes of family, hope, pressure, and what the word home truly means without valuing one more than the other.
Each theme has it’s time to shine and is equally worked on with the same amount of care. Similar to the themes each character that embodies it’s theme/message are equally interesting. The characters were all so naturally refreshing and fun to follow throughout the film. Whether it be the main character Usnavi’s journey of finding what his home is or a smaller character like Daniela’s pride for her block and her heritage the story through her salon excellently balances the viewers attachment to each character’s conflicts. All of the emotional punches the story powerfully threw landed too. There is a few flaws with the story the biggest ones being that there is a few aspects that were unfortunately dropped during the third act which made the act feel like it was lacking the thematic depth of the first two and there is a few minor details that didn’t add up. These flaws were very easy to look past because of how fun the story is though.
The pacing is great even though the film is potentially overlong it never feels boring or uninteresting because of it’s consistent flow of energy. The acting is great Anthony Ramos gives a great performance. He does a great job leading the film and making his character someone who’s outcome you care about. Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Jimmy Smits, Gregory Diaz IV, and Daphne Rubin-Vega give very good supporting performances. I’d like to single out my personal favorite performance out of the film Olga Merediz though. She plays this simplistic and lovable character whose story is heartbreaking yet entirely warming at the same time. I don’t doubt she’ll land an Oscar nomination this upcoming award season.
Lin Manuel Miranda gives a perfectly fine performance but for a very minor character who could have easily been cut Miranda shouldn’t have attempted to play him off as a main supporting character. I’m pretty sure everyone knows he was only his this film because he still wanted to be apart of his story and so the mainstream audience would say to themselves “Hey that’s the Hamilton guy”. The direction is great from Jon M Chu, his directorial choices were all focused and thought out but the main thing I loved out his direction was how he directed the extras. Chu is certainly going to continue to rise up the Hollywood ladder based on his direction.
The script is good sure it’s a little basic at times but for the most part it’s well written and memorable. The cinematography is great this film is stacked with flexible and very well done shots especially during the musical numbers. Speaking of the musical numbers they were all amazing and engrossingly memorable. Out of all the number I’d have to say ether the opening or the 96,000 number would be my favorite. What really makes the numbers so impressive is the flawless dance choreography. It’s intricate choreography that never failed to amaze me especially how it seemed everyone was perfectly in sync. The production and costume design are detailed and vividly passionate too. In terms of the Oscars this film has a very good chance of scoring a Best Supporting Actress- Olga Merediz, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, and Best Picture nomination. It’s obviously way too early to tell and no other Best Picture contenders have came out yet but. I wouldn’t be surprised if this film takes Best Picture because of the Academy’s long history of loving/rewarding musicals and that the film is culturally representing. The ending executes a sweet twist and has excellent emotional payoff, you’d have to have a heart of coal to not be close to shedding a tear or feeling unusually joyous by the time the credits role. Overall it’s flaws are there but they’re easy to look past because of how contagiously energetic, emotionally effective, and consistently well crafted In the Heights is, I seriously doubt any film that’s coming out in 2021 will be as enjoyable or satisfying as this.
🔙The Pelican Brief