Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It Documentary review

In this documentary Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It, we have tabled the persona of Rita. The promise of Rita. Her outstanding success and, it seemed to me, the troubling desire to make her relevant to a current audience. Rita Moreno, now nearing her 90th birthday, is mostly today known for her winning the ‘Triple Crown’. Less is know of her work as a woman of colour who famously won the first Oscar for a woman of her community for her role in WEST SIDE STORY. At a time when white men were at the top of the pile, she rose higher than many would have expected. Hailing from Puerto Rico, she arrived in a vastly racial and culturally divided New York that reflected her later role.

The film explores this with a lovely animation that resonates the lonely journey. Moreno went through the mill. Stage and singing at a tender age. Then to the screens of Hollywood at a time when being a woman and a person of colour, meant you were viewed as ‘inferior’. Cue famous faces talking about their and her struggle. Each gives insight. Some are interesting (Whoopi Goldberg and Eva Longoria give rather compelling insight into hers and their journeys), some are disjointed.

Along came WEST SIDE STORY, a film that is troubling to ignorant people today who see words that are reflective of ignorance as words that are ignorant (ahh the world woke up into a zombie state.) She lived the world of that film but climbed higher. Won her Oscar and then film roles came. The documentary details this briskly but also touches on her success with a universal feel to it. We then cover how loves rose, Marlon Brando was a major one. He was also difficult and abusive. The sequence on The Night of the Following Day (1968) gives us so much of this but is tailed by the conversation on #metoo and sexual abuse by her agent. Men are monsters. successful ones, even more so. Also dealt with here is how she might have escaped from her New York life but was still held by stereotypes that went along the route of the same accent and the same mannerism.

Moreno achievements inspired and are inspirational. This is the part the documentary gleans fascinating views. However her achievement, in film, Stage, sound and TV screen (an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony) is tripped over. Once again, a desire to make someone relevant is important but this will age the piece and undermine their work. America is anything but stationary and after she became a breakout star of the stage and screen, TV beckoned. When Morgan Freeman turns up and speaks, we all listen. She mesmerised many as younger people with her work on The Electric Company.

It would have been so much more relevant to explore this in greater detail. Validating that young people, given access to varied voices, other people, different communities and more, become better people. The scandal currently going on in Englisg Cricket has arisen because, posh middle class, private and grammer educated kids do not see other voices. We all need to see this as the valuable point made here. Moreno strove to be accepted for her and along the way showed to the many, we are all people first.



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