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West Side Story is a 2021 live-action musical film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg, with a screenplay by Tony Kushner. It is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name and a remake of the 1961 live-action film adaptation of the same name, both of which were inspired by Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. It was released on December 10, 2021 by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures under the 20th Century Studios banner.

Synopsis

The film attempts to return to the roots of the original 1957 Broadway version instead of the 1961 film adaptation.[2] Tony and Maria fell madly in love with each other in New York City set in the 1950s, but they had associations with competing street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks.

Plot

In the San Juan Hill neighborhood on the Upper West Side, a gang of white American teenagers, the Jets, fight for control of the neighborhood, defended by the Puerto Rican Sharks who are led by Bernardo. A brief skirmish is broken up by Officer Krupke and Lieutenant Schrank, who starkly remind both gangs that the territorial fight is pointless. The two officers then tell them that the whole neighborhood is being demolished for the construction of Lincoln Center but both gangs are too proud to care. The leader of the Jets, Riff, proposes a rumble between the Jets and the Sharks. He then approaches his friend Tony for help, but he refuses and instead wishes to turn over a new leaf with the help of Valentina, the Puerto Rican owner of Doc’s general store. Maria, Bernardo’s sister, is betrothed to Chino but yearns for independence, against the chidings of Bernardo and his girlfriend Anita.

At a school dance, Tony and Maria spot each other and instantly fall in love. Their closeness angers Bernardo, who agrees to Riff’s terms for a rumble at the Salt Shed, so long as Tony is there. Meanwhile, Tony voices his newfound love for Maria before arriving at her fire escape, and both promise to see each other the next day. Bernardo and Anita feud over their impressions of life in America compared to Puerto Rico, with Anita buying into the American dream over the pessimistic Bernardo. The police interrogate the Jets about the rumble, but they deny any knowledge and privately mock Krupke. Tony takes Maria on a date to the Cloisters, where he reveals his stint in prison occurred after he nearly beat a rival gang member to death, which scared him into reforming himself. Maria makes Tony promise to stop the rumble, and they pledge their love for one another. Tony tries to convince Riff to call off the rumble by stealing his newly bought gun, but the Jets steal it back.

While the Jets and Sharks prepare for the rumble, Anita waits for Bernardo to return home. Schrank then orders Krupke and the police to stop the rumble but Tony still hopes to see Maria afterward. Despite Tony’s effort, the rumble continues, and Riff is stabbed to death by Bernardo. In the ensuing chaos, an enraged Tony takes Riff’s knife and kills Bernardo. The rumble is soon interrupted by the police, forcing all to flee. On his way out, Chino finds and takes Riff’s gun. Maria gushes to her coworkers about her love for Tony but her glee is short-lived when Chino arrives and reveals that he killed her brother. Even though Maria is distraught about the fact that Tony would do such a thing, she still loves him, and falsely accuses Chino of lying. Valentina learns of Bernardo’s death and reflects on her own mixed-race relationship with the late Doc. Despite the Sharks’ protests, Chino is still armed with the gun and plots to kill Tony. After identifying Bernardo's body at the morgue, Anita returns home to see Maria and argues with her about the relationship.

Accepting they are in love; she warns that the young couple needs to get out of the city and Schrank interrogates Maria about Tony’s whereabouts. He then tells her about Chino’s intentions, and she sends Anita to warn Tony, who is hiding at Doc’s. However, Anita encounters the Jets, who shout racial slurs and try to rape her until Valentina intervenes. Her dream of America shattered by the night's events, a traumatized Anita spitefully claims that Chino killed Maria and Valentina condemns the Jets, who leave in shame. Upon learning of Anita’s news, an agonized Tony runs out into the streets yelling for Chino to kill him but is interrupted by Maria’s arrival much to his relief. However, Chino shoots Tony before they can reunite, thus mortally wounding him, and then he dies in Maria's arms. In her despair over his death, Maria takes Chino’s gun and aims it at the gathered rival gangs. She then threatens to kill them all for their actions but cannot bring herself to fire the gun. As the police arrive to arrest Chino, members from both gangs assemble to take Tony’s body and solemnly form a procession into Doc’s with Maria following.

Cast

  • Ansel Elgort as Tony
  • Rachel Zegler as María Vasquez
  • Ariana DeBose as Anita
  • David Alvarez as Bernardo Vasquez
  • Mike Faist as Riff
  • Rita Moreno as Valentina
  • Brian d'Arcy James as Police Sergeant Krupke
  • Corey Stoll as Police Lieutenant Schrank
  • Josh Andrés Rivera as Chino
  • Iris Menas as Anybodys
  • Mike Iveson as Glad Hand
  • Jamila Velazquez as Meche
  • Annelise Cepero as Provi
  • Yassmin Alers as Lluvia
  • Jamie Harris as Rory
  • Andréa Burns as Fausta
  • Curtiss Cook as Abe

Sharks

  • David Aviles Morales as Aníbal
  • Sebastian Serra as Braulio
  • Ricardo A. Zayas as Chago
  • Carlos E. Gonzalez as Chucho
  • Ricky Ubeda as Flaco
  • Andrei Chagas as Jochi
  • Adriel Flete as Julito
  • Jacob Guzman as Junior
  • Kelvin Delgado as Manolo
  • Carlos Sánchez Falú as Pipo
  • Julius Anthony Rubio as Quique
  • Yurel Echezarreta as Sebas
  • David Guzman as Tino

Jets

  • Sean Harrison Jones as Action
  • Jess LeProtto as A-Rab
  • Patrick Higgins as Baby John
  • Kyle Allen as Balkan
  • John Michael Fiumara as Big Deal
  • Kevin Csolak as Diesel
  • Kyle Coffman as Ice
  • Daniel Patrick Russell as Little Moly
  • Ben Cook as Mouthpiece
  • Harrison Coll as Numbers
  • Garrett Hawe as Skink
  • Myles Erlick as Snowboy
  • Julian Elia as Tiger

Shark girls

  • Ana Isabelle as Rosalia
  • Tanairi Sade Vazquez as Charita
  • Yesenia Ayala as Clary
  • Gabriella M. Soto as Conchi
  • Juliette Feliciano Ortiz as Cuca
  • Jeanette Delgado as Ili
  • Maria Alexis Rodriguez as Isa
  • Edriz E. Rosa Pérez as Jacinta
  • Ilda Mason as Luz
  • Jennifer Florentino as Montse
  • Melody Martí as Pili
  • Gaby Diaz as Tati
  • Isabella Ward as Tere

Jets girls

  • Paloma Garcia-Lee as Graziella
  • Eloise Kropp as Dot
  • Leigh-Ann Esty as Gussie
  • Lauren Leach as Karen
  • Brittany Pollack as Mack
  • Kellie Drobnick as Mamie
  • Skye Mattox as Maxie
  • Adriana Pierce as Natalie
  • Jonalyn Saxer as Rhonda
  • Brianna Abruzzo as Sorella
  • Halli Toland as Sweden
  • Sara Esty as Tat
  • Talia Ryder as Tessie
  • Maddie Ziegler as Velma

Production

The film begun production and filming on June 17, 2019.[3] It was filmed in New York City and northern New Jersey through August.[4][5][6] Production officially ended on September 27, 2019.[7]

Music

Main article: West Side Story (soundtrack)

The soundtrack album was released digitally in Dolby Atmos by Hollywood Records on December 3, 2021. It was also released on physical CD on December 10, 2021, the same day as the film.[8][9][10] Alongside the soundtrack, "re-imagined" pop covers were also produced, including "Another Day in America" by Kali Uchis and Ozuna, which was released as a single on November 26, 2021, by Interscope Records.[11]

Reception

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 93% approval rating with an average rating of 8.30/10, based on 348 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "Steven Spielberg's West Side Story presents a new look at the classic musical that lives up to its beloved forebear -- and in some respects might even surpass it." Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 85 out of 100 based on 62 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".

Trivia

  • Prior to its acquisition of 20th Century Fox in 2019, Disney previously considered making a film adaptation of West Side Story in 1996, but it never came to fruition. The film was to have been directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and Jerome Robbins, and the film would have been reportedly updated to take place in the 1990s.[12]
  • The film marks the first time Steven Spielberg has directed a musical film.
  • Released on December 10, 2021, West Side Story was released in the same year as the 60th anniversary of the original 1961 film adaptation.
  • The film was released three weeks after the death of Stephen Sondheim, who wrote the original musical.

References

External links

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