For those of us who watch Bollywood films, musicals are part of our staple movie experience, however for the other half who don’t watch Bollywood movies, then musicals are a rare treat. I say treat because that is exactly what In The Heights is, and I say that because even if you find characters breaking into song and dance every few minutes cringe, there is actually a very important and impactful undercurrent message around immigrants living in America and racism, in this Jon M. Chu directed film
The movie begins with the lead character Usnavi played by Anthony Ramos, telling a small group of children a story, which in effect is ‘his’ story. This is genius story telling as it sort of gives reason for all the mushy song and dance moments against the more serious issues of racism faced by Latino people, and the struggles of undocumented children of immigrants who were raised in the US, which the film highlights in a very non-intrusive way.
So the story is about Usnavi’s dreams of earning enough to one day move back to his late father’s native Dominican Republic. The other characters joining Usnavi with the musical stunts are his crush, Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), who wants to move downtown to study fashion; Nina (Leslie Grace), who returns home after a difficult first year at Stanford University; and her old flame Benny (Corey Hawkins).
There are some lovely moments in the film, where racism is very poignantly highlighted, and the challenges faced by immigrants in the US.
The choreography, by Alice Brooks is hugely complimented by the colourful visuals, which make it a treat to watch, and as a result make you become so invested in the dreams of all the main characters. They all have their own journey’s and ultimately, they all have the same goal – to belong. Where do they belong in this huge world? Well for that you will have to watch the film and share your own thoughts.
In The Heights is in cinemas from Friday 18 June