Vanity Fair dubbed it “Soaring and Gorgeous!”
“The must-see movie of the season!” Variety enthused.
BBC,Cinevue andTheTelegraphoffered 5 stars. I’m inclined to agree.
La La Land is a musical comedy directed
by Oscar-nominated director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) and produced by Summit Entertainment. It stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone with John Legend, J.K. Simmons and Rosemarie DeWitt in supporting roles.
La La Land is a film made for dreamers. Those with far-reaching, outrageous, nonsensical dreams who swallow excuses and push aside every “no” and “can’t.” It is a film to celebrate art, beauty, complexity and joy found in crafting and creating. It celebrates life with all the struggles, heartbreaks and delights that come in stride. It celebrates the past and the genius of Golden Age musicals with tap dancing and jazzy tunes.
The film spotlights Mia and Sebastian, two struggling yet hopeful dreamers in sunny L.A. She’s a bored barista and aspiring actress with one or two botched auditions under her belt. Classy and fun, Mia harbors a deep love for theatre and Old Hollywood Classics.
Sebastian’s a passionate jazz pianist devoted to preserving the classic genius of his musical heroes, artists like Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong. He collects dated jazz merchandise and longs to open his own jazz club.
They meet briefly on several occasions before exchanging names and a song and dance under
the fading, violetlightofdusk.
The next day, while exploring Hollywood movie sets and jazz clubs, Mia and Sebastian exchange their dreams.
They fall in love.
All is perfect.
Except Sebastian doesn’t like his job and Mia’s one-woman show flopped. Soon, he has compromised his dream and she has given up on hers.
Gosling and Stone shine brightly as Sebastian and Mia with bold and energetic performances. Gosling excellently executes his role as the sarcastic and passionate Sebastian.
The audience feels his hunger for good jazz as he sits in the little club, soaking in the melody from the trumpet and sax.
Likewise, Stone performed as the quirky and daring Mia.
As with most of her films, Stone’s wide array of facial expressions is proof of her talent and wit.
Justin Hurwitz, the film’s composer, outdid himself with an impressively complicated score ranging from sweeping majestic orchestral pieces to upbeat finger-snapping jazz. Mia and Sebastian’s theme, a gentle piano tune, is truly the perfect love theme.
What sets La La Land apart from other films is the cinematic risks. Both Gosling and Stone sang live on camera, a difficult and often terrifying feat for untrained actors. Their voices are pleasant and warm — nothing extraordinary — bringing only authenticity to their characters. In addition, Gosling spent three months in intense piano training prior to filming.
The swirling of dresses, rain of glitter and flash of trumpets makes the colors pop on camera — a royal feast for the audience’s eyes.
The sets are creative and beautiful, another wink to Old Hollywood.
Director Chazelle is able to accomplish something new and exciting: a realistic look at dreams. Ditching the typical perfection of a Disney dream, Chazelle instead proves that hard work, sacrifice and encouragement can be motivation enough to successfully pursue a dream.
As the credit rolled and I drove back to campus, I reflected in a daze. La La Land examines life from a realistic and bittersweet point of view. Dreams are real and people can achieve their dreams. But what will be sacrificed to achieve that dream?