"La La Land" is directed by Damien Chazelle and it stars Emma Stone as Mia, a struggling actress in Los Angeles who crosses paths with Sebastian, Ryan Gosling's character who is a devout lover of jazz music with his aspiration for opening up his own jazz club. The two engage in a romance, but the movie itself doesn't stop there. This movie is also a musical, one that uses its song and dance sequences to help tell its story of chasing after your dreams and the sacrifices and compromises that you'll have to make along the way.
As a director, Damien Chazelle blew me away with his directorial debut "Whiplash". That movie ended up being my favorite film of 2014, as well as a signal for all of us movie-lovers to keep an eye out for whatever Chazelle does in the future. Normally I'm not even a big musical fan, but as soon as I heard that Chazelle was directing, I was sold. I wanted to see this guy tackle anything and now that I've seen his take on a modern day musical, I can know say that he is a true directorial force to be reckoned with. "La La Land" is without question one of the year's best films.
As a musical, this movie has the most amount of effort and passion you'll see in any movie of all 2016. Right from the start, you see a grand, spectacular musical number that's full of people in a very condensed, packed location, but everything from the choreography, the camera movement and the song just feels...right. I don't know how else to put it other than that. With the way the musical numbers in this movie play out, it all feels as if it was all meticulously planned out ahead of time (obviously it was) and the results end up being great song and dance sequences that range from energetic and lively to melancholy and wistful.
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are both incredible in this movie. With Stone, there are scenes in this movie where she has to act as someone who's also acting, say in an audition, and she nails those scenes like they're nothing. But you also get to see her absolutely kill her musical scenes, one in particular that will be her Oscar clip for her inevitable nomination next January. And with Gosling, he did a great job of playing a down-on-his-luck jazz artist who's undeniably passionate about what he does. You can tell that he's genuinely in love with the very idea of Jazz and that makes him an extremely likable character, to see someone with so much passion for one thing, something that translates well onto the big screen.
The story itself is a love story, but it's one that is not only very touching to watch, thanks to outstanding chemistry between Stone and Gosling, but it's also one with very important, relatable themes, such as what you're willing to go through and sacrifice in order to achieve your dreams. The musical numbers are excellent and they definitely elevate the romantic story just fine on their own, but one of the driving forces to this movie is its constant theme of compromise, partnership, and sacrifice. Without these ideas, this movie has a basic romance that may not be as interesting to watch, but thankfully there's a very real and down-to-earth dynamic at play that pushes this romance beyond the realm of hokey Hollywood love.
One of the best things I can say about this movie that sums it up just perfectly is that there's noticeable passion behind the camera and it's not only from Chazelle. There's a plethora of talented actors, singers, dancers, and other film crew members who put their best foot forward with this movie and you get a truly unique movie-going experience that we don't see very often. This is one giant love letter to the classical films in a much earlier time in Hollywood, and it certainly shows. There are some sequences in this film that have "movie magic" written all over them and it's great to see so much enthusiasm for an more unique style of film-making.
"La La Land" is easily going to end up as one of my 10 favorite movies of 2016 once it comes time to make that list. From the performances, the musical numbers, the story, and the old school feel of it all, this is a movie that demands to be seen by anyone who considers themselves a film enthusiast. Seriously, even if you aren't a fan of musicals, I highly recommend this one. This is a movie that felt special when watching it, and it just gets better with each passing minute. I honestly can't praise it anymore.
Rating: Better Than Sex!!