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Film REVIEW: In the Heights - ★★★★★

Director: Jon M. Chu

Writer: Quiara Alegria Hudes - based on In the Heights by Quiara Alegria Hudes & Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Stars: Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Olga Merediz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, Jimmy Smits, Lin-Manuel Miranda.

A film version of the Broadway musical in which Usnavi, a sympathetic New York bodega owner, saves every penny every day as he imagines and sings about a better life.

In Cinemas Now - Rated PG

Whether you'd a die-hard musical fan or don't usually make a song and dance about show tunes, we reckon you're going to love In the Heights.

A gloriously uplifting cinematic adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's stage musical about an immigrant community in New York City experiencing love, loss and laughter over three memorable days and nights.




'The ultimate in feel-good musical entertainment. Upbeat, charming and with a wonderful message of working hard, community and following your dreams. The cast are no doubt all going to become very famous of the back of this as they are all fantastic. The music and choreography are top notch. Yes there's a few cheesy moments but it's forgivable as the film is just so charming and likeable and will have you dancing along in your seat. The little moments of fantasy elements interspersed within are subtly done and give the film a real cinematic feel. It's fantastic, the perfect summer movie!'

Have you seen it yet?


What is In the Heights? Film origins and plot

Even if you've never seen it, chances are you've heard of the 2015 musical Hamilton and its composer and creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Its worldwide success has been extraordinary, making Miranda (Mary Poppins Returns) a star, and his signature blend of rap and unforgettable melodies the biggest thing to happen to musical theatre in a long time.

Conceived in 1999 - when Miranda was still at college - and brought to Broadway in 2008, In the Heights is a story of belonging and dreams for a better future set in the Manhattan neighbourhood of Washington Heights, and centred around a corner convenience store run by second-generation immigrant Usnavi de la Vega.

Set over three eventful days, and with the largely Dominican neighbourhood on the cusp of gentrification, Usnavi and a handful of long-time residents grapple with questions of identity, ambition and how communities thrive and fade away.

In the Heights is a fantastically entertaining musical, full of memorable tunes, vivid and likeable characters, and inventive storytelling. And, thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda and director Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians), the transition to the big screen has given In the Heights the real-world backdrop it deserves, creating a sensational visual experience to match the musical one.


In the Heights cast and characters. Who's who in In the Heights?

ANTHONY RAMOS (Hamilton, Trolls World Tour) is Usnavi de la Vega.

Owner of the corner convenience store in the film's neighbourhood of Washington Heights, and the musical's main narrator, Usnavi was named by his Dominican parents after they saw 'US Navy' on the side of a ship as they arrived in America.

Raised by Abuela Claudia after his mum and dad passed on, Usnavi dreams of living in the Dominican Republic someday.

LESLIE GRACE is Nina Rosario.

Nina is the barrio's (neighbourhood) success story - a super-smart young woman who gained a place at prestigious Stanford University on the West Coast.

Her parents have worked so hard to support her success, but when the film's events begin she has returned to Washington Heights on vacation, full of doubts about her future.

COREY HAWKINS (Iron Man 3, Kong: Skull Island) is Benny.

Benny works as the dispatch for Nina’s father’s taxi cab firm. He’s one of the few people in the neighbourhood who doesn’t speak Spanish, but he wants to learn. And that may have something to do with the way he feels about Nina.


Laura is Anthony’s new caretaker – a young woman hired by Anne to care for him so he can stay living at home. But then, Laura also reminds Anthony of his younger daughter, Lucy. Something happened to Lucy but Anthony can’t remember. He hasn’t seen her for months…

OLGA MEREDIZ (Evita) is 'Abuela' Claudia

Claudia is the barrio’s matriarch who emigrated to the US from Cuba back in 1943. She almost single-handedly raised Usnavi after his parents died, but to many people in the area she is an unofficial but beloved abuela (grandmother).

GREGORY DIAZ IV (Vampires vs. The Bronx) is Sonny de la Vega.

Sonny is Usnavi’s younger cousin and works at the corner store (bodega) with him. Well, we say ‘work’. He can seem pretty lazy sometimes, but he’s smart, thoughtful and cares deeply about social justice.

DAPHNE RUBIN-VEGA (Spin City, Smash) is Daniela.

Daniela runs the local hair salon. She lives for drama and likes nothing more than to receive, embellish and amplify new nuggets of gossip from her patrons. If something’s going on in Washington Heights, Daniela knows about it.

JIMMY SMITS (Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) is Kevin Rosario.

Kevin is Nina’s father. He owns and runs a local taxi cab firm. He’s protective of his daughter and has a deep personal stake in her dreams of making it out of the bario, in part because he broke a family tradition of being farmers to try and make his fortune in the USA.

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA (Hamilton, Mary Poppins Returns) is Piragua Guy.

The genius behind Hamilton and In the Heights played Usnavi on Broadway but felt he was too old now to take the role in the big-screen adaptation. And so he plays the Piragua guy, who sells his delicious, Puerto Rican shaved ice desserts in the bario and is constantly trying to stave off competition from the Mister Softee ice cream truck.

Have you seen these films? How do you rate them?...


In the Heights soundtrack - Top 5 In the Heights songs

We love a great soundtrack and In the Heights is awash with gorgeous, Caribbean-inspired tunes that were made to move to (and be moved by).

But out of In the Heights' 23 terrific tracks these are our absolute favourites.

In the Heights - Usnavi and Company

Spun out from a signature Lin-Manuel Miranda rap, In the Heights finds Usnavi opening up the De La Vega Bodega as Washington Heights wakes up to a new day and many of its residents add their voices to his own. Starting off simply, it grows into a gloriously uplifting snapshot of a corner of Manhattan on the cusp of change.

No Me Diga - Daniela, Carla, Vanessa and Nina

Led by the irrepressibly theatrical salon owner, Daniela, ‘no me diga’ translates as ‘you don’t say’, and this refrain peppers the song as the stylists and patrons alike spill tea about the bario’s goings-on and juicy rumours. Infectiously energising, this is a big grin of a song.

When You're Home - Nina, Benny and Company

All the feels come out in this beautiful song that finds Nina and Benny reminiscing about their childhoods in the Heights and how far they’ve come, and the pair begin to acknowledge their feelings for one another now that Nina has returned from university. One of many to-die-for duets.

Champagne - Vanessa and Usnavi

In this sweetly awkward duet, Vanessa’s gift of a bottle of bubbly to thank Usnavi for helping her secure her apartment downtown becomes a moment of realisation of her feelings for him just as he plans to leave the Heights. Meanwhile, shy Usnavi seems caught up in how fiddly it is to open a bottle of Champagne…

Carnaval dal Barrio - Daniela and company

The big 7 minute party song!


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