West Side Story ★★★★

Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise make a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet in their musical production West Side Story. This film really sat with me after viewing. I’m glad I waited a few days to write to the review because it has only grown in appreciation since. The production is full of catchy songs, great choreography, beautifully built sets and charismatic leads. It works so well because the themes shifts from Shakespeare’s depiction of a destiny challenged couple to that of socio-political change in America’s urban city’s. This adaptation modernizes the story perfectly for the 1960’s when violence and civil rights were still a very raw issue. The political themes are just a backdrop to a very similar story of the fragility and preciousness of budding teenage romance. The tale is still moving for those who are romantically inclined and the change in the ending makes it no less emotionally stringent. It is still about the cruelty of coincidence and circumstance in an indifferent universe. Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer’s chemistry works so well you get lost in the injustice of it all. West Side Story represents the best in Hollywood magic and all the assembly production polish you’d expect from a enthusiastic crew of talented filmmakers. I’m not the biggest fan of musicals in general, but West Side Story explodes with talent and high production quality. You end up with a film that’s more than the sum of its parts.