As much as I love movies, Musicals have never really been able to grab my attention. I find them to be incredibly cheesy and they tend to take me out of the experience. I heard all of these great things about La La Land and decided I would take a chance and go see it. I guess I just haven’t been watching the right Musicals…
La La Land is a Musical directed by Damian Chazelle, and starring both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Let me get this out of the way quickly by saying that both Gosling and Stone were the absolute perfect choices for these roles. Ryan Gosling is extremely charming in his portrayal of Sebastian, a passionate Jazz pianist. While Emma Stone is about as believable as you can get as Mia, a struggling actress trying to make it big in Hollywood. Their chemistry really does shine through at every step of this movie, and it’s an absolute joy watching them do roles that were noticeably challenging.
Director Damian Chazelle gave these actors a lot to do in this movie, with multiple big musical numbers involving singing, dancing, and piano playing. I was shocked at how good Ryan Gosling was at playing the piano through out this film. I heard in an interview that he was extremely nervous playing in particular scenes, but he knocked it out of the park. Stone’s most impressive feature in this role was her ability to be vulnerable. She showed this through some intense dramatic scenes as well as on particular songs in the movie. That balance between music and acting is one of the movie’s big strengths. The music isn’t a crutch that movie depends on for progression, it’s a compliment to the story being told on screen.
Speaking about the story, this was a great one. It’s the story of how two passionate people meet, fall for each other, and help each other push forward with their passions. It’s a beautiful message of how a significant other can push you to be a better version of yourself.
I hear the term “love letter” being used for this film quite often and I can see what they mean. This is a movie paying homage to the classic Musicals while showing love to old school Hollywood. What people forget to mention is that through the perspective of Mia, we see the movie take multiple jabs at current day Hollywood. This is a movie for passionate people. It is telling anyone out there who is passionate about something, to go out and follow through with that passion. The movie uses Sebastian to show its frustration with people who decide to give up on their dreams. What makes it special is that this path isn’t glorified, because this movie displays the strain that following your dream can put on the people around you.
In a Musical an important aspect is obviously the music, and boy does this film deliver. The song “City of Stars” is a simplistic song that accurately sums up the point of the movie. Gosling’s vocals are surprisingly good on the track as well. He’s no professional singer, but he does a nice job. Emma Stone on the song “Fools Who Dream” was also great. It’s my second favorite track of the movie behind City of Stars, and I thought she was fantastic. The only song I wasn’t really a fan of was “Someone in the Crowd” because it was a bit over the top for me. There’s also the song “Start a Fire” that I believe is a great track. What makes it interesting is that I know it’s a great song, but within the context of the movie it’s a song that I didn’t like because of what it meant for the characters.
To compliment the brilliant music were these incredible visuals. Damien Chazelle completely wowed me with some of these breathtaking shots. There is a really long dance sequence with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling that takes place in a front of an LA sunrise that I thought was incredible. Also, the final dance number had such smooth transitions. The way both of the characters glided from set to set felt so natural.
La La Land is fantastic. Damien Chazelle does it again here and he is a director people should keep an eye on. Ryan Gosling is on fire and caps off a great year. Emma Stone will likely win an Oscar for her performance here, and she is absolutely deserving of that. The way the music and the acting come together tell this story in a way that is touching and powerful.
La La Land gets a 98/100 and is awarded the title of…