Amazing, brilliant, spectacular, inspirational, beautiful, gorgeous! These are just some of the words that best describe Damien Chazelle’s Hollywood musical spectacular La La Land, which is without-a-doubt one of the most exhilarating and joyful experiences that you’ll have in the cinema all year.
In La La Land, Chazelle explores the stories of Hollywood dreamers who are attempting to find their place in its fabled sun. His narrative follows the interconnected of aspiring actress Mia Dolan (Emma Stone), and the talented yet frustrated Jazz pianist Sebastian Wilder (Ryan Gosling). For both Mia and Sebastian, the world of Hollywood is not a fairytale, but rather a constant struggle of rejection and false starts, but after they accidentally find one another they soon discover a shared belief in each others abilities that leads both of them down a road of quick success. But this success comes at a price, and unfortunately that price is a conflicting love that begins to get in the way of their very busy schedules.
Chazelle really lucked out with his two lead stars who have never been better on screen. As Sebastian, Gosling channels equal parts Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire, which results in plenty of smooth solos and quickly timed tap dancing routines. Gosling builds into Sebastian the charisma and character of an old soul who longs to recapture the glamour of Hollywood’s golden age in his music. Unfortunately the world has moved on from the Jazz Age, and when he finally gets his shot it’s not what he imagined it would be.
Stone’s Mia, on the other hand, is a doe-eyed ingenue who has yet to have any success in Tinseltown and spends her days rushing to countless auditions dressed in her barista uniform. While she has plenty of guts and a never quit attitude, the rejection cycle is hard on her, and it is only through the love of Sebastian and his belief in her that she can really reach her full potential. Like Gosling, Stone has plenty of chances to let her voice be heard, and her sincerity and passion that she brings to the song ‘Audition [The Fools Who Dream]’ will have you close to tears.
La La Land is nothing short of a cinematic dream come true, and Chazelle has created one of the most moving, entertaining and spectacular expressions of the cinematic art form that I have seen in a long time. This film is not just an homage and celebration of the grand old Hollywood musical, but of the power of cinema in general, and is packed with vintage set locations, stunning costuming, a thumping Jazz infused musical score and a powerful and emotionally charged narrative that pulls you into the journey of these two characters.
Image: EOne Films