Friday, June 18, 2021

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It - Documentary Review

The Documentary: Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It

The Director: Mariem Pérez Riera

The Story: A look at the life and work of Rita Moreno from her humble beginnings in Puerto Rico to her success on Broadway and in Hollywood.

The Review:
Rita Moreno is one of those legendary actors who I only ever had a passing knowledge of and really only knew the name from her starring role in West Side Story so having an opportunity to learn about who she is and what she experienced over the course of her career in Hollywood was quite the treat and also very eye opening. Moreno has stood the test of time and conquered just about every phase of her long and storied career, even when she was forced to make compromises to keep that career going.

Director Mariem Pérez Riera does a really great job of showing all aspects of Moreno's life from her childhood days and teen years as an actress all the way through her current run of TV shows and films all while revealing layers of personality. The director also uses some paper cutout, stop motion animation to create a unique perspective on some of the more pivotal moments as it shows how the little girl who discovered and adapted to a new world moving from Puerto Rico to America is always a part of Moreno's life and personality.

I think, since the Me Too movement became a thing a few years ago, there has been a much higher awareness of how toxic and overly masculine the Hollywood machine has been although I don't think there has really been as deep of an exploration into how prevalent it has been as what we see in this documentary. Moreno talks about how extremely limited the roles being offered to her have always been, even after she won an Oscar, and also about her experiences being constantly hit on and assaulted as if all of it was just an expected part of being in the industry.

It's a sad thing to see and honestly quite frustrating although what shines through is Moreno's perseverance and resilience as she fights her way through every obstacle on her way to becoming an icon and a leader not just in Hollywood but as an activist as well. Ultimately this film is very appropriately titled as Rita Moreno really does embody that go for it spirit and a willingness to take on the world regardless of what it throws back at you. The actress is an icon and the woman is an inspiration in just about every way a person can be.

The Verdict:
Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It is as fun and entertaining and spirited as Rita Moreno herself and also manages to be a very enlightening exploration of Hollywood's toxic culture and racism filled past. Definitely a film you want to check out.

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