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Review Round-Up: In the Heights finally hits the big screen

What did critics make of the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical?

The cast of In the Heights
© Macall Polay

Reviews have come in for the long-awaited and hotly anticipated big screen adaptation of In the Heights, the release of which was delayed due to the pandemic.

Directed by Jon M Chu (Crazy Rich Asians), it's based on Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes's musical of the same name, which tells the story of a Hispanic-American community threatened by gentrification.

The film stars Anthony Ramos, Leslie Grace, Dascha Polanco, Stephanie Beatriz, Corey Hawkins, Melissa Barrera and more, with Lin-Manuel Miranda also appearing as Piragüero. It has a screenplay by Quiara Alegría Hudes (who also wrote the original book).

So what did the UK critics make of it?


Clarisse Loughrey Independent

★★★★★

Sometimes a film will come along that feels perfectly of the moment – and not because of any superficial ties to current events ... Jon M Chu's full-throated, dizzyingly soulful adaptation arrives in cinemas after a year-long delay, into a world still trying to crawl out from under the shadows of a devastating pandemic. In that sense, it's a gift.

Peter Bradshaw Guardian

★★★

It is a sweet-natured film with Sunny-D optimism and a no-place-like-home ethic; in a pleasant way, it felt like a feature-length version of that moment in Fame when all the kids start dancing and singing around the yellow cab outside New York's High School of Performing Arts ... There's plenty of vibrancy and winning charm but a persistent and weird lack of grownup plausibility.

Helen O'Hara Empire

★★★★

The pace never seriously falters because director Jon M. Chu makes each number distinct and gives the film enormous momentum ... The cast are all strong, from the relatively established Ramos — a member of Hamilton's breakout Broadway cast — and Straight Outta Compton's Hawkins to newcomers Barrera (at least, new to English-language audiences) and Grace ... It's thanks to the uniform commitment of the young cast that the emotion hits as hard as it does.

Kevin Maher The Times

★★

At worst it's like being trapped inside a deranged Latin-themed house party with only the Buena Vista Social Club and the hyperactive cast of Rent for company ... There are catchy tunes here but nothing with the guttural dynamism of 'My Shot' in Hamilton, or the devastating heartache of the same show's 'It's Quiet Uptown'.

Charlotte O'Sullivan Evening Standard

★★★★

Personally, I can't resist a song (the title number 'In the Heights') that skips from Cole Porter to condoms, or an Esther Williams-style extravaganza that takes place in a teeming municipal pool ... And most of the performances are incredibly stirring. Cuban matriarch Claudia is played by Olga Merediz, whose voice makes you want to cry an ocean ... it's a gorgeous tribute to Black and Hispanic power. What a trip."

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