sprizzle’s review published on Letterboxd:
♫ *I feel pretty...Oh so pretty*♫
I wasn't really in the mood for a musical. But I figured I would give this a watch anyways. It's highly regarded, won a ton of awards...But so have a lot of musicals. They're just not my cup of tea. Immediately upon starting this film I realized this one is not like the others. All musicals are not created equal, some are filled with remarkable direction. West Side Story stands as one of the greatest musicals ever made and as a love letter to New York City.
So what makes this film different and why should you watch it even though you hate musicals? The movie has an obsession with style. There is a beautiful five minute title, it looks like a painting that eventually fades into the New York skyline. You know you're in for something a little bit different right away. That feeling continues when you meet the Jets, a street gang that the film focuses on. They're undoubtedly tough and love choreographed fights scenes and basketball games. I love that. Their counterpart, the Sharks, are very similar except they are a little darker. Skin color wise that is, they have literally been shoe polished up to look like a dark Latino street gang. I guess I'll forgive that. This is the story of the Capulets vs the Montagues, or Romeo and Juliet. So you know the ending going in. But what makes this one not only worth watching but worth drooling over is the fantastic direction of the musical numbers. It feels similar to a play but the filmmakers go all in on the advantages of film. The editing and cinematography won this movie Best Picture. But so did the music, acting, EVERYTHING. This deserves every accolade received.