Sorry, But the Story Part of West Side Story Sucks

While exquisitely made, the flaws in the source material can't be escaped

West Side Story Review

The Pitch: On a very literal level, Steven Spielberg‘s West Side Story is a technically perfect film. Every detail on screen, from the period-accurate production design to the costumes to the choreography and sound design, is flawlessly rendered by some of today’s best artisans, and regular Spielberg collaborator Janusz Kamiński’s cinematography is unmatched, using the full frame at all times, playing with depth of field and brilliant lighting choices in ways that only enhance the cast’s brilliant performances.

There is so much to admire about this new take on West Side Story, especially how it makes up for the 1961 original by casting actual Latinos in key roles, and takes a bilingual approach to the dialogue that adds to the authenticity. The problem, unfortunately, is that all of this is in service to a narrative that, frankly, wasn’t that great to begin with and has aged even worse.

Is it a bold take to say that one of the great classic works of musical theater is based on a pretty silly story? Perhaps not, given that there are arguably far sillier stories amongst the genre’s greatest hits. But still, here is a song-and-dance-free summary of what happens in West Side Story


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