“La La Land” is a movie lover’s dream come true. This rare film showcases the magic and power cinema has and will slap a smile on your face from the moment it starts till long after the end credits roll.
This original movie musical follows jazz pianist Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling, and aspiring actress Mia, played by Emma Stone, who struggle to make ends meet while living in Los Angeles. The two fall in love and help each other to pursue their dreams.
While the story sounds cliched, this is where “La La Land” outshines the rest. The story is relatable to anyone who has ever been passionate about a dream and, despite the musical element, is done in a way that feels grounded and realistic. Writer and director Damien Chazelle manages to make a film that’s inspiring without feeling sappy or emotionally manipulative.
Chazelle’s directing is highly impressive. Musical numbers feature little editing and consist primarily of continuous takes that never lose focus on the action. The camera constantly zips around the performers which gives “La La Land” the same frenetic energy as a live performance. Combined with the bright colors and gorgeous cinematography, the film feels like a dream.
The songs are all catchy and memorable. The most interesting aspect of the music is how the energy goes in reverse. The opening number is the most significant and energetic song, but as the movie progresses, the songs begin to mellow and become more intimate and emotional. It’s a creative choice that helps reflect Mia and Sebastian’s journey.
Gosling and Stone both deliver fantastic performances. The chemistry they share is palpable and watching them work off each other is highly entertaining. The two do their own singing and dancing and both are equally impressive. “A Lovely Night,” a duet Gosling and Stone share while tap-dancing against the shiny backdrop of LA at night, showcases the effort they put into their roles.
“La La Land” also loves paying tribute to classic films of the ’50s. From its old-fashioned style and tone, to referencing musicals such as “Singing in the Rain” and non-musical films such as “Rebel Without A Cause” and “Casablanca,” cinephiles will definitely enjoy finding all the Easter eggs and homages hidden in the movie.
The only flaw is that the film feels a bit too long. With over two hours of run time, the film could have been trimmed down, as a few scenes tend to drag on in the last act. However, this is a minor nitpick when compared to how flawless the rest of the movie is.
“La La Land” is a movie that comes out just once in a lifetime. Its rarity is a testament to the magic of filmmaking and should be enjoyed on the big screen. “La La Land” is highly recommended.