In the Heights (2021)

In the Heights (2021)

2021 PG-13 143 Minutes

Drama | Music | Romance

The story of Usnavi, a bodega owner who has mixed feelings about closing his store and retiring to the Dominican Republic or staying in Washington Heights.

Overall Rating

8 / 10
Verdict: Good

User Review

  • BarneyNuttall


    6 / 10
    I went in with no expectations. Not to mean that they were low. I just sort of knew what I was going to get. I'd seen Hamilton in the theatre, which I thought was really quite brilliant, and I'd heard that this was sort of it's younger brother. While it does have moments of excellence, In The Heights does feel like a Hamilton cool-down especially since the songs all sound pretty much identical to the songs from Hamilton, granted with a Latin American influence.

    In The Heights follows Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a name revealed to be humorously nautical, whose entire life revolves around the Washington Heights, a block of streets with a Latin American citizenship. Working in a local shop, Usnavi dreams of rebuilding his deceased father's tiki bar in the Dominican Republic. But when dreams, gentrification and romance stand in the way, will his dreams come true?

    Well with the power of music and friendship anything is possible!! Yes, the typical musical mindset is dominant in this piece. There are moments of darkness and beauty, where the exuberance of the musical mixes neatly with a realist view; a death scene is particularly poignant. Other numbers are just very musical-ey (?). Sure, the big dance numbers are a blast, with swathes of dancers popping, locking and spontaneously combusting to songs about the lottery and festivals. But they lack a punch of power. The alternative song version, that being the power ballad, was a favourite in this film. Every time someone began walking down the street, passionately squeezing out words as if squeezing their own voice box with a clenched grasp, my hands went limp and my foot stopped tapping. The rollercoaster of joy had stopped rolling and had begun coasting.

    Where this film really shines are in moments which derive from personal experience. Much like Stanley Tucci's 'Big Night', and I don't cite that lightly, laughs shared over dinner or embarrassing dialogue between lovers are savoured. Snippets of beautiful communities ground the film in a reality. These cement the themes of race, heritage and cultural identity within the film's world, making it's audience buy into the real pain of The Heights community. But then someone starts singing. And then their hands begin to punch the sky. My hands, then, go limp and my foot remains stationary.