TURN UP THE VOLUME ON YOUR DREAMS.
Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) tells four children the story of his life in Washington Heights, the place where he had his friends, family and the girl (Melissa Barrera) he fell in love with. Before ”Hamilton” there was ”In the Heights”, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway breakthrough, and this is a buoyant screen adaptation, joyously highlighting Hispanic culture while also delivering a message that DREAMers are part of the American experience as well. Miranda’s song-and-rap style elevates many numbers, Ramos is a stand-out and the filmmakers use their medium to great effect visually. Loses some of its impact near the end, but there’s always one more treat to grab your attention.
2021-U.S. 143 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Anthony Bregman, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Mara Jacobs, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Scott Sanders. Directed by Jon M. Chu. Screenplay, Book: Quiara Alegría Hudes. Cinematography: Alice Brooks. Songs: Lin-Manuel Miranda (”In the Heights”, ”96,000”, ”Blackout”). Cast: Anthony Ramos (Usnavi), Corey Hawkins (Benny), Leslie Grace (Nina Rosario), Melissa Barrera, Olga Merediz, Daphne Rubin-Vega… Jimmy Smits, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Marc Anthony.
Last word: “I grew up not in Washington Heights, and I’m not Latino, obviously, but in a Chinese restaurant in the Bay Area, so I knew what it felt like to have your aunties and uncles take care of you. I knew what it felt like to have [my grandmother] teach us how to fold wontons and do the books for the restaurant every night on her abacus. I remember the sound and these little details of smell, sight, and music, that were always around me. The show said everything that I could never say about what it felt like to grow up like that.” (Chu, Town & Country)