La La Land review: Dream come true

Chad White
Loves: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Damien Chazelle, this movie, romance
Likes: Continued love after years of being apart
Dislikes: Break ups
Hates: haters

Here's to the fools who dream.

First thing’s first: La La Land is one of the best movies of the year. It’s beautiful, romantic, darling and so much more all at the same time. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone effortlessly waltz through a wonderful script and simply amazing direction from Damien Chazelle. Simply put, La La Land is for dreamers who dare to follow their dreams and settle for nothing less.

A chance meeting directly after the opening number of the movie soon splits the first act as the audience follows Sebastian Wilder (Gosling) and Mia Dolan (Stone) throughout their days. Mia is an aspiring actress working at the Warner Bros. lot coffee shop. She suffers through audition after audition in roles that will hopefully get her closer to her dream of acting admiration. She’s not discouraged but she could use a boost. Sebastian, on the other hand, had everything he wanted in working at a jazz club only to have it ripped away from him. He spends most of his days getting coffee miles away from home only to sit and watch the club from across the street. It’s not until the couple’s third meeting that they actually hit it off.

For the rest of the movie, a relationship featuring the highs and lows of any relationship is established. The romance of it all, though, comes from two things: the marriage of Chazelle’s script and the actors along with the charm of Gosling and Stone. The story‘s acts take the form of seasons with Winter bookending the experience. And that’s exactly what this movie is; an experience. Chazelle writes with such care, such passion that it’d come across with any pair of actors. But having Stone and Gosling working together only adds to the film.

Los Angeles as a backdrop works well too as the two leads dance their way around the city. A date can take them as high as the Griffith Observatory and as low as a seedy jazz club. It’s all followed wonderfully by Chazelle’s direction. Even musical sequences stream seamlessly in with the workings of the world. Stone, for instance, takes the backseat and lead in a song about going out to a Hollywood party with her roommates. There are long moments without music though (only to be accompanied by composer Justin Hurwitz’s phenomenal instrumentation) but those scenes are punctuated with acting and story elements that eclipse music.

Aesthetically, La La Land is dazzling. There’s a sublime quality to the entire film as Gosling and Stone sing and dance their way in and out of love. It has a vibe of the big band era while encompassing modern day music and heavy elements of jazz and blues all at once. Not once does a genre overtake another.

Should you watch La La Land?

This is the best movie of the year (subjectively). Every moment will have you captivated. It’s a movie for dreamers, lovers, and romantics. Dreams can be had but at what cost?

 

Notes

  • Ten minutes in, La La Land became my favorite movie of the year.
  • Ryan and Emma really do have great chemistry. And who knew they could sing? The Lonely Island knew at least one of them could.
  • Hey, go buy the soundtrack too.
  • Damien Chazelle also wrote Whiplash. But he had this script since 2010, when his dream was still out of reach. Keep working, kids, and you’ll get somewhere.
  • John Legend’s role as the guy who mixes Jazz and Pop is so wonderful. His music wasn’t half bad.
  • I’m so sure there’s something wrong with this movie. Maybe there’s plot holes or misplaced tunes. At this point, I don’t care. I’m too in love with everything about this entire movie.
  • Please watch the Anatomy of a Scene Chazelle did with the New York Times. It takes the song Gosling and Stone sang when they met for the third time and analyzes it. You’ll appreciate every bit of information. I promise.
  • Speaking of, the references in the movie are off the wall. Chazelle wanted the leads to have a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers feeling. There was a nod to The Lost Weekend with the neon signs too. The old age 20th Century Fox ads before the opening number is a sensational addition too. And it’s shot in CinemaScope. I love this movie.