One word: Perfection.
Director: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling
Release date: December 9, 2016
Genre: Romance, musical, comedy, drama
Old-school Love Letters
This movie is delicious, and rarely has a musical stood so tall and firm, and so fluid in its choreography and style that speaks volume as soon as the colors drip on-screen. One other musical of recent memory that maybe lacked the choreographic moments of La La Land, but still contained a healthy dose of style and heart would be Sing Street, which is also a great musical attached to a coming-of-age setting.
Here, La La Land does a few things well simply because of its value to Hollywood as well as how its highlights are displayed for all to see. Not only is it a love letter to old-school musicals such as Casablanca, or old-school color palettes that strike a magnificent gloss over the visuals of the movie, it is also a love letter to those with dreams, hopes and ambitions, and glorifying those who dream big and act on it. It's almost as if the film is encouraging those who are nearly there to take another daring step forward, or try a little harder.
Emma Stone plays Mia Dolan, an aspiring actress involved in multiple failed auditions who meets Ryan Gosling's character, Sebastian Wilder, whose dreams are to open a jazz club where he is at the center of it all. In their chance and short meeting, the duo eventually fall in love. And so the film follows them, where they open each other to who they are, their futures and their passion -- something which director Damien Chazelle subtly plants, and flourishes in the final act of the movie.
The film has impeccable balance, albeit trying to land its musical numbers and high-fluid choreography, or trying to land the comedic landmarks that happen oftentimes here-and-there throughout Mia and Sebastian's tale of romance. The movie revels in the inter-changing quips between the characters and quick pacey drama and scenes, leaving the audience breathless in the quiet takes where the backdrop slowly slides into view and takes center stage.
The balance doesn't drive the film, no, but it disallows disorientation, and sets up for multiple viewings where certain elements are now much more perspicuous than before. That is the strength of La La Land for sure, where two aspiring artists fall in love and in some senses, bloom over the course of the movie and envelopes the audience on its journey.
Soundtrack of the Characters
Some musicals work because the soundtrack invokes a sense of emotion that rings with the characters that are singing it. Within 30 seconds, the film kicks into life with its highway opening number of Another Day of Sun, which sets up the tone and theme of the movie, reminding the audience that 'hey, this is a musical'.
City of Stars, A Lovely Night and Audition (The Fools Who Dream) give us an insight into Mia and Sebastian's journey, and it gives the audience rooting power and the ability to relate to what the characters are feeling, whether it's a mellow tune or one that invites groove.
Justin Hurwitz's Mia and Sebastian's Theme still takes the cake as being one of the most powerful pieces in the soundtrack, delivering spades of truth into the two leads relationship, as well as the organic nature of it that becomes relentless by the end of the film.
The soundtrack is dedicated to the characters and also to the audience, and that's what makes it utterly beautiful.
It doesn't matter if you're not a fan of musicals, or have never seen one, or feel that romance movies are a little too cheesy or way over the top. La La Land is so much more than that, and that's what makes it one of the best movies of 2016.
The dazzling chemistry and duo of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling lights up the stage, but the stage of their wondrous romance and the backdrop of Los Angeles and the high-flying song and dance about life and living makes the movie memorable and immediately gets you wanting more.
If you're a fan of Whiplash, director Chazelle's predecessor film, then you won't need convincing to watch this film. If you're not, and you decide to step foot into this harmony, then beware, because its notes and hooks aren't going to let go anytime soon.
La La Land is a modern classic that is worth every second of your time, and truly one of the best movies of recent years. It's perfect.