If you’re a musical fan and you haven’t yet heard about Lin Manuel Miranda’s latest creation, listen up. Because the film adaptation of his musical production In the Heights is getting a whole lot of attention right now.
In the Heights was slated for a May 2021 release, but was delayed until June due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic – like a whole heap of productions. The musical was written by Quiara Alegría Hudes with music and lyrics by co-creator Lin Manuel Miranda (of Hamilton). It was directed by Jon M. Chu of Crazy Rich Asians.
What’s In the Heights about?
The musical was written, in Miranda’s own words, because of a desire for the Latinx community in the States to feel seen.
In the Heights is set in Washington Heights, a neighbourhood in Manhattan, New York that has a long history of being home to a rich and diverse Latinx community. The musical, and now the film, is a love letter to the culture, tradition and deep bonds of the people and the neighbourhood while touching on the impact of gentrification, the immigrant experience and hardships faced by the Latin peoples who have made the United States home.
Usnavi (played by Anthony Ramos), a Dominican Republic-born bodega owner in New York, is the lead character and the story follows his journey in attempting to follow his dream of opening a bar in his home country. There’s also a sweet love story between Usnavi and his longtime crush Vanessa (played by Melissa Barrera), who desperately wants out of the barrio, and hopes to become a fashion designer.
The film adaptation of the musical also features Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins, Olga Merediz, Jimmy Smits, Gregory Diaz IV, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Stephanie Beatriz and Dascha Polanco.
While the film and its music is a beautiful insight into this part of New York life, there has been an important discussion about colourism come up in response to the film. In the Heights has been criticised for its lack of Afro-Latinx representation, particularly in leading roles.
As NPR reports, folks have stated that Washington Heights in reality has a significant Afro-Latinx population so leaving them out of the film in any notable way has drawn questions.
let me go even further. anything about the washington heights community at large that dont specifically center *black dominicans* (not just any latinos–BLACK DOMINICANS) is a trash ass whitewashed fantasy. and that is what in the heights is.
— zahira???? (@bad_dominicana) June 10, 2021
Miranda addressed these comments with an apology which you can read below.
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) June 14, 2021
When is the film dropping in Australia?
This is a bit of a confusing one. The official release date for In the Heights in Australia is June 24, however, there have been a number of early screenings across select cinemas. So, there’s a chance you could see the film as early as tomorrow, depending on where you are.
Where can I watch In the Heights in Australia?
While the US were treated to split release across cinema and streaming service, HBO Max, the film will only be available to watch at the cinema in Australia. Unless, of course, you have a VPN that will grant you access to HBO Max.
Where can I check out the music?
One of the best elements of the film, unsurprisingly, is the music. If you’d like to prepare for your In the Heights viewing, you can start with the motion picture soundtrack on Spotify here.
Alternatively, you can check out the original Broadway cast recording here.
If you’d like to get in the mood for this new favourite for musical fans, you can prep by tuning into Hamilton one more time on Disney+ and renting Crazy Rich Asians on Amazon Prime Video. And with all this New York talk you may be keen on a West Side Story session, too. Catch that classic on Stan here.