In the Heights
A must see even if you aren’t a fan of Broadway musicals.
Lin-Manuel Miranda follows the historical Hamilton with a dazzling musical that explores the lives of immigrants living in Washington Heights, a section of New York. The music and dancing are mesmerizing as it celebrates Latin American culture.
A number of things make this movie special. Let me start with the fact that it was filmed entirely in the Washington Heights neighborhood, spanning 155th Street to 193rd in New York. The joy of this film emanates from the viewer’s ability to embrace the characters’ environment.
Yet the heart and soul of Heights rests on the struggles of American immigrants as they seek a better world. It begins with Anthony Ramos’ role as Usnaui, a bodega owner with dreams of returning to the Dominican Republic. His performance gives strength and inspiration for those struggling to make sense out of our short existence here on earth.
There are so many good roles in director Jon M. Chu’s (Crazy Rich Asians) film that it borders on embarrassment to point out only a few. Let me start with Mr. Miranda who ironically played Usnaui in the Broadway production. Here he plays Mr. Piragüero, a street vendor who serves as an audience commentator in multiple scenes.
Lezley Grace is unforgettable as a Stanford drop out fighting to get refocused. In addition, Jimmy Smits, Melissa Barrera, Corey Hawkins, Stephanie Beatriz and Gregory Diaz IV are as poignant as they are memorable. You’ll wipe tears from your cheeks as you watch Olga Merediz play the matriarch Abuela Claudia. This was a wise woman who found meaning from her years as a Puerto Rican immigrant house cleaner.
Written with gust and style by Quiara Alegia Hude that won’t be forgotten when the Oscars roll around, this joyful film captures the meaning of life for immigrants everywhere. Told through song and dance, this movie will find a way to your heart.