Somebody please check on Lady Gaga because the critics are finally shouting A STAR IS BORN and it’s not because they just now got around to watching their screeners from three years ago. They are talking about Rachel Zegler who makes her big-screen debut as Maria in Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner’s remake of West Side Story which in early reviews is being heralded as “phenomenal” and a “triumph,” with outstanding performances by Rachel, Ariana DeBose as Anita and David Alvarez as Bernardo, that Ansel Elgort is also in. Finally, Martin Scorsese can stop asking who he has to blow to get some CINEMA up in this bitch! Turns out it was his old pal Spielberg all along.
WSS is, of course, a remake of the 1961 classic movie which starred Quacasian Queen Natalie Wood as Maria with actual Puerto Rican Rita Moreno as Anita (who has a cameo in this one). That movie was an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by the recently ascended Stephen Sondheim. Stephen tragically passed away this past Friday but not before he was able to see the completed film which he called “imaginative,” “surprising,” and “really terrific.” Stephen’s is the only review that matters to me on this, the 4th day without him on this earthly plane, but here are a few others.
WEST SIDE STORY is *phenomenal.* Steven Spielberg has been talking about making a musical for almost his entire career, and this was worth the wait. This is top-tier Spielberg.
— Chris Evangelista (@cevangelista413) November 30, 2021
Steven Spielberg’s #WestSideStory is a TRIUMPH! It's beautiful & brilliantly photographed – a real love letter to NYC w/ a tremendous ensemble cast who truly redefine this classic story for a new generation. Shout outs to @rachelzegler & @ArianaDeBose who CRUSH it in this film. pic.twitter.com/9wJbUJclnV
— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) November 30, 2021
A shocker: I didn’t dislike Spielberg’s #WestSideStory. It’s not a patch on the original (what is?). People’s skin are rendered way too pale. And the VFX is jarring. But Ariana DeBose and her evocative eyes were incredible. So were Rita Moreno and David Alvarez. Ansel? Eh. pic.twitter.com/OwEPlVuv4L
— Robert Daniels (@812filmreviews) November 30, 2021
I’m in awe at how phenomenal WEST SIDE STORY is.
Steven Spielberg makes it look easy — but every frame of this film is him at the top of his game.
There’s not a misstep — figuratively or literally.
— Jake Hamilton (@JakesTakes) November 30, 2021
Steven Spielberg’s #westsidestory is bold and stirring. The best parts are Tony Kushner’s book and the dramatic reimagining of classic numbers such as “America” and “Somewhere.” Ansel was a bit flat, but the rest of the cast is great and it feels like an #Oscars contender. pic.twitter.com/PAYJcoVAfZ
— Brent Lang (@BrentALang) November 30, 2021
— jennifer’s bodycam (@venividivigor1) November 30, 2021
The pandemic may have been devastating for millions of people across the globe but it was actually kind of cool of it to delay this movie long enough for us to forget that Ansel is an alleged serial creep. So, almost worth it really. And as if to dig the knife a little deeper into Gaga’s prostrate corpse, apparently no Spanish accents were hurt during the making of this film.
WEST SIDE STORY: If it's not quite essential, it's still tremendously entertaining. Vivid, beautiful work from our greatest living American moviemaker. Invigorating choice to have subtitle-less Spanish comprise ~40% of dialogue. David Alvarez is the breakout, but everyone's aces.
— Barry Hertz (@HertzBarry) November 30, 2021
After the devastating loss of Sondheim’s corporal being, it’s wonderful to know that an entirely new generation will be introduced to his lyrical genius in a new light. No slight to Adam Driver but I didn’t really see droves of Gen Z’ers (and younger, I can’t keep up!) running out to cop the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Company after hearing him sing Being Alive in Marriage Story. Hopefully, thanks to Stev/phen and the gang, future generations will stop settling disputes with knives and guns and get back to doing gang warfare the old-fashioned way, with high kicks and finger pops!
Here’s the full trailer for WSS which opens in theaters on December 10th.
Pic: 20th Century Studios via YouTube