A truly splendid masterpiece.
Damien Chazelle’s first feature outing was two years ago with the astounding Whiplash. Now he’s back, and as well as showcasing his clear skill with music in film, he has made the bold leap into rarer territory nowadays; a musical.
Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress in Los Angeles, meets Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a passionate jazz musician. The pair fall for each other, but will the City of Stars let them be?
A simple plot told elegantly by Chazelle. Of course there’s more to it than that, such as John Legend’s character who disturbs the pair’s bliss in the later act. But what carries the film is the obvious, irresistible chemistry between the leads. The pair have starred together twice before in Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad, but from their first encounter you know it’s simply going to work.
Stone’s character isn’t a one-beat girl with a dream and a smile, she layers Mia with joy, aspiration, but also conflict and frustration. We feel her pain as she’s knocked back time and time again, even though she’s clearly the standout in any room – not to mention her stunning rendition of “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”.
Then you have Gosling, who’s impassioned performance is instantly likeable. He’s a man chasing a dream that’s flying away from him, and you start to catch onto his despair as time marches on. Thanks to his chemistry with his co-star also, he comes off stubbornly witty, relentlessly cheeky but a romantic all the same. Also, his skills on the Piano are absolutely ridiculous – like how our eyes were stuck to Teller’s drums, Gosling has brought the feeling back. He also performs the award-winning, enchanting City of Stars, a song that you’ll whistle for weeks to come. The pair’s dancing and singing abilities are not world-class, but that’s one of La La Land‘s most endearing qualities. Their success at the Golden Globes was entirely justified, and don’t be surprised if they swoop a couple of Oscars for the road.
The choreography and music are sensational. Justin Hurwitz, who was the lead on Whiplash‘s music, has returned flawlessly. From the beginning freeway flash mob to the closing epilogue, there won’t be a frown in site in the audience. Undoubtedly delightful in varying scale (Stone and Gosling’s nighttime tap dance is a joy) you’ll want to get up on screen and dance along. It’s a throwback to the MGM musicals of old with a modern, more grounded twist, a loving tribute to the Golden Age of Hollywood, still respecting the likes of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers but taking the genre to new heights. It’s hard to remember the last time I’ve felt so warmly satisfied after seeing a film – a real delight, that deserves to clean up on Oscars night.
To sum it up…
Damien Chazelle along with his music and dance geniuses have created a film that’s truly beautiful. I am unashamedly, and unconditionally, in love with La La Land.
Rating: PURE DYNAMITE!
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Author: Cameron Frew