La La Land follows Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) on their journeys through L.A in an attempt to make their dreams a reality. They become drawn to each other by their common yearning to do what they love. However, as their success begins to mount, their love for each other becomes threatened by the very dreams that brought them together.
Coming off his recent success with Whiplash Damien Chazelle shows the world just how talented of a filmmaker he will be for years to come. Chazelle masterfully maneuvers through similar themes of love and discovery of one’s true potential, except this time around the film has a little hop in its step. Paying tribute to the musicals that came before it, La La Land does not do anything new but re-energizes a genre that’s long been forgotten about in Hollywood. The steady camerawork, ranging from long tracking shots to the intimate close-ups the audience gets during a musical number; all make for a unique experience. With exception to the opening musical sequence, the film’s musical numbers are all very similar in tone and sound, though it does not take away from the tightly choreographed performances on screen. In addition to the well choreographed, brightly colored, and balanced direction, Emma Stone, and Ryan Gosling smooth everything out with their fantastic performances and chemistry.
La La Land features a stellar cast of Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, J.K Simmons, and John Legend just to name a few. In their limited roles, J.K Simmons and John Legend are a delightful addition, not a distraction to the overall film. It was nothing special but goes to show just how much Chazelle enjoys working with previous actors. Though the one complaint I have with Legends character is the lack of a resolution to his subplot, not that in mattered in the grand scheme of the film, his role just seemed to be forgotten about. Emma Stone and Ryan Goslings chemistry ooze off the screen as we watch them through their journey of love and discovery of their real potential. Our protagonists are struggling through life; Gosling is a struggling jazz pianist, while Stones an actress trying to make it big. La La Land stands out because of how real the situations of our characters feel. Gosling and Stone are no Astaire and Rogers, but they do an incredible job of dancing that adds to their voices. Their individual performances, their chemistry, and music (yes, they can sing and dance!) elevate the film into one of the top films in its genre.
Although La La Land remains sound regarding story structure; the film does suffer from some pacing issues, especially during the first half of the movie. Following the opening number, Damien Chazelle takes the time to establish our characters separately, before introducing them together, and on most levels it works. Though there were sequences, such as Stones’ roommate’s musical number about going out and Gosling’s exposition-filled visit from his sister, that I felt were unnecessary; it didn’t take away from the films overall charm and tone. La La Land will make you sing, it will make you want to get up and start dancing, it stands to bring you back into the forgotten genre of Hollywood. It doubles down on the nostalgia, reminding the audience of classics like Singing in the Rain and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. This film above all else tells its own mesmerizing story of love, dreams, and the sacrifice that comes with achieving great success. La La Land is special, passionately driven, and a near musical masterpiece.
Overall: La La Land succeeds with its direction and writing while elevating to one the best in the genre by the performances of Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone in what stands to be the best film of the year.
4 ½ Stars
Rutgers Student studying Political Science & Government with a minor in Journalism who has an interest in the intersection of journalism and political movements.