If you’ve been waiting for life to be breathed into the recently stale Musical genre, then look no further. Director Damien Chazelle manages to create one of the most heartfelt films of the year with La La Land. The film is a run-of-the-mill story about a boy meeting a girl and falling in love. What La La Land manages to do different, is embrace the cliché, while at the same time ignoring it. The film is an obvious homage to earlier Hollywood musicals, but it tries to be new and revolutionary.
Emma Stone stars as Mia, an aspiring actress who makes ends meet as barista on the Warner Bros. lot. Mia attends audition after audition, but never manages to land a role. Ryan Gosling shines as the master pianist, Sebastian, who wants to open his own Jazz club to save the dying genre. Sebastian, much like Mia, seems to be chasing a dream that is forever out of reach.
The two meet after one of Mia’s failed auditions which leads her into song, where she wonders into a club where Sebastian is playing the piano. After Sebastian is fired for not sticking to the selected numbers, he rudely pushes past Mia, which is where their romance begins. Throughout a series of different encounters, the two quickly fall for each other and begin sharing their dreams. The couple never feels unauthentic, and both of the performances are top-notch.
Stone’s absolutely glamorous as Mia. She is able to convey a wide range of emotions that make it easy to forget that an actress is singing outlandish songs of romance in front of a camera. Gosling’s charming demeanor is matched by his comic timing and wit, all the while tickling the ivory until it sings. The two had previously starred wonderfully as a couple in the 2011 film Crazy Stupid Love, and their chemistry works even better in La La Land.
In addition to the acting of the two leads, the film’s musical numbers are truly outstanding. The lyrics and vocals feel so raw it will almost undoubtedly bring a tear to your eye at least once. The choreography accents the instantly iconic songs and is impressive in its own right. The opening of the film immediately immerses you into the picture, while Stone and Gosling’s duet on the way to their cars let’s you experience falling in love all over again.
Chazelle’s directing is stupendous. His use of lighting and sound makes the audience experience what it’s like to sit through a Broadway production, all the while sitting in a theater. Chazelle also employs an almost hypnotic aesthetic, that makes one feel as if they are lost in a dream. There are beautiful colors, lights, and props that feel real, but at the same time fantastic.
Chazelle delivers one of 2016’s best films and a worthy entry into the Musical genre. Although there are a few times in the middle where the film sags, it still manages to warm your heart and makes you feel as if dreams really can come true. With great acting, directing, songs, and a colorful aesthetic that makes one feel as if they had entered a dream, La La Land is sure to delight.