'In the Heights' is glorious eye and ear candy -- with something missing | CNN
June 10, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
Compression ratio: 17.8%. 2 min read.
"In the Heights," adapted from Lin-Manuel Miranda's stage musical, is feel-good musical magic that offers wholesome escapism, says Ed Morales -- even as it reveals the limits of Hollywood's idea of representation.
But overall, the film focuses more on the love stories between the lead character, reluctant bodega owner Usnavi and aspiring graphic artist Vanessa, as well as the romance between Stanford undergraduate Nina, who is Dominican, and taxi dispatcher Benny, who is African-American.
To its credit, “In the Heights” does address some real-world social issues relevant to Washington Heights, such as the difficulty faced by urban Latinos who decide to attend elite universities.
In a film as likely to attain stratospheric success as “In The Heights,” the artistic choice to conflate identity with protest feels like a massive opportunity lost.
The underlying mantra that most permeates the film version of “In the Heights” is not about politics or social protest at all, but about the sueñitos, or little dreams, that various characters have – Vanessa’s desire to be a fashion designer, car-service owner Rosario’s dream that his daughter Nina graduate from Stanford, Usnavi’s dream of moving back to the Dominican Republic.
Instead of overt social protest, “In the Heights” settles for the quiet dignity of a line delivered by Olga Merediz’s Abuela Claudia, about how she survived emigrating from Cuba to New York in 1943: “We had to assert our dignity in small ways, little details that tell the world we are not invisible. ”
While the lottery sets off the film’s most impressive musical segment, the hip-hop flavored “96,000,” it provides Usnavi, who inherits the ticket from the suddenly passed-on Abuela Claudia, with cash to hold onto his bodega and stay in the Heights, start a family with Vanessa and pay legal expenses to help Sonny get permanent resident status.