Notes On Attention Paid

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The New West Side Story Brings the Show’s Father Issues to the Fore, Kyle Turner, Hyperallergic

… compelling review of Spielberg’s take on this classic reimagining of Romeo and Juliet

Spielberg’s understanding of West Side Story and the role of inheritance in it (the love he’s inherited for the show, the love or hate the characters inherit for one another) is not uncomplicated. He doesn’t find a satisfying, saccharine answer around resilience the way he usually does in his characters, even though that idea easily could have manifested here in the form of María and Tony’s romance. Nor does he lean into the sentimentality of working on such a beloved title. His approach is dynamic, as shown by how he deepens (without “solving”) the story. Though evincing a classical Hollywood sensibility, he makes the personal and political violence more harrowing, their cyclical nature more tragic. The aesthetic in-betweenness — both breathtakingly old-fashioned and sharply modern — feels like his way of situating West Side Story within both his filmography and broader cinematic and political history. “Somewhere” is a utopian song, but finding a “new way of forgiving” doesn’t seem possible without grappling with the past. María and Tony ultimately can’t escape it, but can the show? Can Spielberg himself? Maybe “tonight” …