SUNDANCE Movie Review:
Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided to Go For It
by Julie Perez
What do you do when you enter an industry and you have no role models to look up to? Well, if you’re Rita Moreno then you become the role model yourself.
Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided to Go For It, directed by Mariem Pérez Riera tells the story of an icon who deserves to be celebrated. To cover a career that has survived for seven decades feels like a tremendous feat but Mariem found a way to capture all of the intricacies of Rita Moreno’s life and career in a way that will leave you begging for more. With the help of interviews from her costars, her friends and Rita Moreno herself; Mariem brings us into the life of the only Latina EGOT winner in history.
From the moment she arrived in New York City from Cuba, to becoming her family’s sole bread winner at sixteen, to finally getting cast in a movie; Rita Moreno’s story is a complicated one. If the saying, “she did what she had to do” had a face, it would be Rita Moreno’s. She is fully aware of how her early is looked at; she allowed herself to be cast as Native American, Polynesian and basically anything that required a thick accent but her decisions snowballed into the career she has now.
Rita Moreno allows herself to be completely vulnerable when discussing her life. This documentary should definitely come with a trigger warning for suicide, sexual assault and rape. She opens up about the times that she was sexually assaulted at Hollywood parties, raped by her agent and emotionally abused in her relationship with Marlon Brando. These topics along with the racism she has endured in her career are difficult to consume but they’re such a necessary truth that needed to be told.
Rita Moreno has made an art out of reinventing herself and this film makes it abundantly clear that she is far from being done. The documentary makes it very clear that we are looking at more than just the icon that is Rita Moreno. Mariem wants to leave you with a deep understanding of who Rita Moreno is as a person and she succeeds by the end of the film.
“Did having to struggle so much take something out of me? Not me. Not I” – Rita Moreno