review: La La Land

Here’s to the fools who dream.

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An aspiring actress (Emma Stone) getting by as a barista and a down-and-out musician (Ryan Gosling) fighting for his integrity and creative license as a jazz pianist meet then sing some songs, dance a bit, and fall in love. That is indeed the main gist, but there is so much more to La La Land than just its amazing, thoroughly fleshed out, totally pure and compelling love story that is delivered perfectly by Stone and Gosling.

Yes, I know. I’m gushing. Anyway…

Damien Chazelle writes and directs La La Land with incredible vision and scope. The movie is like a love letter both to and from old Hollywood that is also about contemporary life in Los Angeles. Every scene is like a vintage postcard. The colors and lighting are gorgeous and each swing of the camera feels in rhythm with the lovely musical numbers sprinkled throughout. While watching I was mesmerized by the way Chazelle wove his viewers through fantasy sequences and sensual settings, and afterward found myself asking, “Wait, how’d he do that?” La La Land is such a technically exhilarating film.

The rush of optimism that is the main staple for most musicals isn’t missing from La La Land. Indeed, the gripping lovability of both Gosling and especially Stone have viewer’s hearts singing with it in minutes. That’s why its undercurrent of real-life melancholy is so bittersweet and heartbreaking. What happens when people have dreams that intersect and then go off again in different paths? What happens to love under the weight of responsibility and career? The ending sequence is as fulfilling as it is crushing in the wake of these two characters’ deep relationship, sacrifices, and adversities.

Before I give too much more away, I will stop and say that La La Land is simply a modern classic. I look forward to Chazelle’s budding film career, and am waiting to see how this film stacks up tonight in the Best Picture Oscar race!

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