Another Triumph for Damien Chazelle
La La Land is an incredible moviegoing experience and one of the absolute best movies to come out of Hollywood in recent years. Coming hot off of his incredible success with “Whiplash,” Damien Chazelle knocks it out of the park once again, with great performances by both Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.
As one can figure from the title the film is set in Los Angeles and works as a touching love letter to the fabled city of dreamers. Despite depicting all and the frustration and costs that can come with following your dreams, the film never manages to lose its charm and retains its hopeful optimism.
Emma Stone stars as Mia, an aspiring actress having trouble getting past her first auditions and supports herself working as a barista on the Warner Brothers Lot. Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian is a piano player who dreams of opening his own Jazz club where he can play is music his way. Getting fired from restaurants for showing off his talent he supports himself playing parties in an 80’s cover band. The two run into one another on multiple occasions before they pursue each other as well as their dreams. Quickly falling in love they push each other to try and find new ways of achieving success.
The song and dance numbers in the film feel very modern and not blow out of proportion, with Justin Hurwitz composing some truly memorable music sung very well by Stone and Gosling. Rough around the edges at times, the fact that Stone and Gosling come from film and aren’t seasoned Broadway veterans works in the movies favor.
La La Land works well thanks in part to the great chemistry between the two leads. Having already worked together on “Crazy, Stupid, Love” & “Gangster Squad,” Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling play off of each other incredibly well. While JK Simmons does appear briefly as Seb’s boss and John Legend (who’s acting feels very stiff) has a minor role helping to move Seb’s story along, La La Land is Mia and Seb’s story. While it makes the city seem small, it never makes you pine for anyone else. If anything it sometimes makes you wonder if the story would have been better for Broadway.
A great tribute to a city that makes and breaks people, La La Land finds a very natural way to its ending. Gripping and emotional it realistically portrays the cost of living a happy and successful life. You can’t always get what you want, but you’re damned if you don’t at least try.
It’s tough not to love this movie. Damien Chazelle and producer Justin Hurwitz managed to modernize a genre which hasn’t seen much popularity in over 50 years. Making “Whiplash” first gave Chazelle the credibility to make La La Land his own way without studio interference and it paid off perfectly. Great performances from the lead actors, catchy music and a hopeful yet realistically heartbreaking story make La La Land a must see.
10/10 – City of Stars will get stuck in your ahead and that is more than ok. See this movie asap.