In the Heights Spoiler-Free Review: A Latinx Musical That Made Me Cry Tears of Joy the Entire Time
Bring the tissues.
In the Heights made me cry in a way that I haven’t in a long time. It’s not an inherently sad movie. Let’s clear that up, first and foremost. It’s a movie filled with so much life, love, wonder, and hope that you find yourself laughing, loving, and enjoying this movie from start to finish. I cried for the wonder and spectacle that was this movie was and how familiar it felt to me, down to my bones.
I might’ve never lived in a neighborhood like Washington Heights, but these are my people. From Puerto Rico to Cuba and Mexico, these are the people that I’ve grown up with. They are and have been my community since I left my home island of PR. And to see my experience, in a manner of speaking, brought to life onscreen made the waterworks happen from Usnavi’s intro to the final number.
The cast was spectacular. Anthony Ramos as Usnavi grounds the movie as he contemplates a decision that will change his life forever. But he’s not the only one. Melissa Barrera’s Vanessa, Jimmy Smits Kevin Rosario, Leslie Grace’s Nina, and Olga Merediz’s Abuela Claudia all have a decision to make when it comes to their lives and futures in In the Heights. That makes for a rich story that feels fulfilling, honest, complex, and real.
The musical aspect of it all—one of the top selling points of the movie because it’s a musical, after all—was vibrant and unforgettable. From the opening number to “96,000,” it felt like an extravaganza that you could not take your eyes off. Some made me laugh, some made me stare in wonder because I couldn’t understand how numbers that big were coordinated, and there is one musical number that had me bawling. I won’t say which one. But it was worth it.
Put that all together and you’re left with a movie that breathes life into you and leaves you feeling like you’re floating on air. Because In the Heights, it feels like a dream become reality. It feels like pacienca y fe wrapped up in one for the Latinx community who have been waiting with bated breath for an opportunity like this where our stories are grounded in more than what Hollywood likes to think of us.
This is who we truly are. We are vibrant communities from all over who have found a home with each other. And it doesn’t matter how far we go or the changes that we make in life, that family stays with us, and we find even more community along the way. That’s what In the Heights reminded me of, and the thought that stuck in my head long after I left the theater. This is our movie, the Latinx community.
In the Heights is also a movie that everyone can enjoy. You don’t have to be Latinx to connect with this community. All you have to do is be human. Because no matter where you come from, we all understand a need to be found and fit in with the people around us and that we care about. So, if there’s any movie you watch this year, make sure that it’s In the Heights. Whether it be at home or in theaters, make sure that you take a moment on June 11th and experience this masterpiece.
It’s worth it. And if you cry along the way I did, that’s ok, too. We’re in this together now.
(image: Macall Polay/Warner Bros. Entertainment)
Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!
—The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]