Whiplash was a heart-pounding, intense experience, one of the best films of 2014, with 2 of the best performances of 2014. La La Land is an uplifting, heartbreaking experience, one of the best films of 2016, with 2 of the best performances of 2016.
La La Land is beautiful, in more ways than one. It’s an uplifting tale of following one’s dream, a heartbreaking love story, with beautiful music, shot composition, and cinematography.
At one point, Keith (John Legend) asks Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), (speaking of jazz), “How can you be a revolutionary if you’re such a traditionalist?” In a way, this is Damien Chazelle asking the audience to take a leap with him. To accept his altering of the traditional Hollywood musical formula, his melding of the old with the new to create something familiar but exciting, nostalgic but invigorating.
I would be remiss to not mention Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, our dual protagonists Mia and Sebastian. Both are perfect, pitch-perfect, if you forgive my pun. Neither are great singers, and it’s quite obvious that in that department, the film asks amateurs to do a professional’s job. But they make a great on-screen couple (despite the 8 year age difference). We’d already seen their great chemistry in Crazy Stupid Love, and it’s maintained here, with the addition of perfectly coordinated song and dance.
The music itself is beautiful. The highlight track is City of Stars, but the other songs are no slouches, either. Someone In The Crowd and the Epilogue track count among my favorites. All of it feels very Old Hollywood, the dancing is perfectly timed, and reminiscent of the big, brash Golden Age Musicals La La Land emulates.
From its exciting opening dance number to its devastating finale, La La Land delights with winning performances, toe-tapping music, and spectacular visuals. An unforgettable experience, La La Land earns an A+.
Hopefully I’ll be able to get around to some of the other soon-to-be Best Picture nominees, I’m hoping to see Manchester By the Sea soon. If not, a review of something old’ll be forthcoming. I recently finished binge-watching all 7 seasons of Gilmore Girls classic, so when I finish A Year In the Life, I’ll write about my thoughts on that. Until then, bye!