Run time: 156 mins
West Side Story
West Side Story is one of Steven Spielberg’s finest films in years, and a new milestone in the career of one of our greatest living directors.
He has delivered a relentlessly dazzling, swooningly beautiful reworking of the musical by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, which feels just as definitive and indestructible as the 1961 version.
The story, which transposes the star-crossed lovers of Romeo and Juliet to postwar New York, hardly needs rehearsing. This is the stamping ground of the Jets, the white gang fighting a turf war with their sworn Puerto Rican enemies, the Sharks. Rachel Zeglar as Maria is a force to behold and the beating heart at the centre of the film.
This is perfect Spielberg: where spectacle and sentiment aren’t vying powers, but complementary forces, each propelling the other to bewitching new heights, creating an experience in which Bernstein’s score and Sondheim’s lyrics blaze out with fierce new clarity. The result is miraculous: a film which fuses the colour and euphoria of a Golden Age movie musical with the teeming, dirty-fingernailed grandeur of a classic American immigrant epic. (Jack Whiting)