Review in Brief: In the Heights (2021)

“Feelgood film of the year” is an overused poster quote, but as far as IN THE HEIGHTS is concerned it’s probably true. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s pre-HAMILTON hit brought to the screen by Jon M Chu has the same confidence and similar layered R’n’B inflected and rap-peppered musical numbers but with firm rooting in its vibrant culture and place, the Dominican New York neighbourhood of Washington Heights. During a gruelling summer heatwave and subsequent power cut, Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) saves every penny from his bodega to fund a return to his childhood home of the Dominican Republic, while his friends, family and neighbours all chase their dreams as the Heights begins to change beyond recognition. You could quibble and nitpick about the editing being a little too choppy to make the most of the dazzling dance numbers and for an egregiously bad greenscreen insert shot in one of the standout sequences, but the style (including dips into dreamy fantasy), carnival atmosphere and performances, particularly from Ramos, Corey Hawkins and Melissa Barrera still make the film soar. SSP

About Sam Sewell-Peterson

Writer and film fanatic fond of black comedies, sci-fi, animation and films about dysfunctional families.
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