By: Amanda Guarragi
‘Little details, that tell the world, we are not invisible.’
When we think of our own heritage, we are always proud of where we come from. Everyone wears their heritage on them like a beautiful flag. As generations pass stories to the next, they can stand tall and embrace where they come from because that is what makes them unique. All the hardships that previous generations have faced, are still evident today, they are just masked differently and it is shown in this film. Jon M. Chu’s In the Heights is exuberant, emotional and filled with love for the Latinx community. There are many movie-musicals, that try to avoid feeling like a musical, but Chu embraced that magic and gave us the movie of the summer.
In the Heights is framed as a story, within a story, and Jon M. Chu structured it well on-screen. When we first meet Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) he is retelling his story about living in Washington Heights, to a younger generation. He urges them to say ‘Washington Heights’ so it doesn’t disappear and that it is never forgotten. Passing stories, traditions, songs, and anecdotes to the next generation is important. That is what this musical does so beautifully. It takes all of these stories, these people from different countries, all coming together under the same bandiera, that is Washington Heights.
When we are younger, our first thought is to get out of the current living situation we’re in. We want to be bigger and better, in order to not only achieve our own dreams, but to somehow prove that what our parents sacrificed for us didn’t go to waste. No pressure, right? As we try to move forward with our own dreams, we lose sight of what is in front of us, and Chu, along with Lin Manuel Miranda (writer of the original broadway musical), shows us that we need to embrace what we have around us. If you build your happiness, your dream, in what you already know, there’s no need to move away from it.
In the Heights is beautiful to look at. The visuals were stunning, and the musical numbers, especially ‘96,000’, were executed so well. There are moments in this film that will stay with you, long after you’ve watched it. Prompting you to relive the same magic with the soundtrack, but even then, you’re itching for another viewing. After watching this, you’ll want Anthony Ramos to be in everything. As well as breakout Melissa Barrera, who plays Vanessa, steals some scenes with her beautiful voice and vulnerability. It’s the movie of the summer because of how much personality it brings to the genre. Seriously, do yourself a favor and go listen to this soundtrack!