In the Heights Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

“In the Heights of New York” / In the Heights

Genre drama, musical
Directed by John M. Chu
Cast Anthony Ramos (Usnavi), Melissa Barrera (Vanessa), Olga Meredis (Grandmother Claudia), Leslie Grace (Nina), Jimmy Smits (Kevin Rosario), Corey Hawkins (Benny), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Daniela), Stephanie Beatriz (Karla), Lin-Manuel Miranda (piragua seller), etc.
Warner Bros. Studios Pictures
Release year 2021
Site IMDb

The musical In the Heights appeared on Broadway in 2008, winning favor with audiences and theater critics. The production won four Tony Awards (Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography, Best Orchestration) and one Grammy Award (Best Musical Theater Album).

The author of the musical, as well as the leading actor on the theater stage, was Lin-Manuel Miranda – he is a famous American playwright, composer and author of another sensational musical production called Hamilton (in 2016 it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize). Now Lin-Manuel is preparing to release the film musical Tick, Tick… ​​Boom!, which will be released on Netflix.

By the way, Miranda is known not only in theatrical circles. He can be seen on episodes of the sitcoms How I Met Your Mother and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He also appeared in the TV series His Dark Materials and played one of the main roles in the modern film adaptation of Mary Poppins Returns.

In the feature film “On the Heights of New York” (which, by the way, due to the pandemic for a whole year could not get on the big screens), Lin-Manuel Miranda plays a secondary role – he becomes a seller of piragua dessert. The old-fashioned man hauls a cart filled with ice and berry syrups, while a more colorful ice-cream van sparks the hype. This is just a small sketch of the life of a modern city, which is rapidly transforming, pushing out outdated businesses, and at the same time those who have stayed in one place.


Interestingly, in the feature film, Lin-Manuel Miranda cedes the role of the main character to actor Anthony Ramos – he will have to tell the viewer about how the days go in the Washington Heights area of ​​New York. This is a community where Hispanic immigrants and their children live, inspired by the American dream.

Anthony Ramos plays the hero with the wondrous name Usnavi (he is sure to admit how it appeared). Without delaying the acquaintance, the guy begins to rap to Latin motives, telling absolutely everything about himself and his neighbors. Usnavi owns a small shop where many people come for a cup of invigorating coffee. Waking up, residents of Washington Heights rush to work, dream about the future and, where without it, exchange rumors. And then they start dancing, dispersing along the sidewalks and the roadway, where cars temporarily give way to dancers – dozens of people who become a crowd, but continue to stand out from each other, creating a rather expressive portrait of the guests of a noisy quarter. Such scenes are only possible in musicals, and this is impressive in its own way.

Usnavi, like the others, also fantasizes about a better future. But not in Washington Heights, but far beyond. The hero wants to return to the Dominican Republic, where his parents once left, and open a cozy beach bar there. The guy is about to fulfill his dream, only for this he will have to give up Vanessa, with whom he has long been in love. It is unlikely that the girl will want to leave with him, she has plans for a career and moving to a prestigious area of ​​New York. In addition, Usnavi and Vanessa have never been in a relationship, but only exchanged insignificant phrases.


Love torments and dreams of a better future are not the only theme of the film “In the Heights of New York.” There are also more frivolous characters who entertain the audience with their gossip, as well as those who try to talk about personal drama. For example, the heroine Nina, a girl who bears the burden of the hopes of the entire district, is therefore afraid to admit that she dropped out of her studies at Stanford University. Her storyline is filled with doubts, which sometimes slow down the overall pace of the musical, turning into lengthy lyrics.

But there are other numbers that touch to the core – this is the performance of actress Olga Meredis, who played the role of Claudia’s grandmother (the actress played the same role on Broadway). The woman who raised the people of Washington Heights as her grandchildren recalls her youth. She sees old subway cars in front of her, filled with people from the past, and relives the moment when her mother brought her from Cuba to New York. The heroine is surrounded by dancers whose clothes are reminiscent of the difficult history of the people from her homeland. Claudia in the song talks about how she, as a little girl, perceived life in a foreign country.

Without a doubt, “In the Heights of New York” is a film for an amateur (moreover, for a lover of modern musicals, although there are also classic numbers here). It mixes salsa motifs with hip-hop, hot days turn into an impromptu carnival, and dancing takes place literally everywhere – in apartments, in nightclubs and just on the sidewalks. And if the plot can sometimes seem too simple, then the choreography of the numbers, in which a large number of dancers are involved, more than compensates for everything. At least, you rarely see such a fun and diverse New York in films.

Interestingly, “In the Heights of New York” is one of the few rental films in which you can hear lines in the original language. The main dialogues of the characters were dubbed into Ukrainian, but some phrases were left in Spanish, with subtitles added to them. And, of course, all the songs that sound in the musical are also accompanied by subtitles.

Pros: a look at that part of New York, which is little represented in the movies; choreography of dancers; memorable numbers; mix of musical genres; in the rental version of the film you can hear the original language Cons: in some places the plot seems rustic; there are characters whose stories slow down the overall pace. Conclusion:

the film is not for everyone, but it will appeal to those who are interested in modern musicals, as well as those who love Latin motifs.

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