La La Land is a remarkable achievement in every category of filmmaking. It’s even more astounding when you consider that this could have easily become a campy satire ala Rocky horror Picture Show. Instead it’s the first original musical in the last 25 years and the best to hit the big-screen since Chicago waltzed its way to Oscar gold back in 2002. This beguiling picture plastered a grin on my face and kept it in place for the following two hours.
Mia (Emma Stone) is a struggling actress from Boulder City, NV. She can’t catch a break in LA. Failed audition after failed audition, Mia is at her rock bottom when she meets Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz musician with little money and large aspirations. The two form a bond over movies and music, and before long they are madly in love. Then success comes calling in the form of Harris (John Legend) who offers Sebastian a gig playing the piano in a band that has a national tour set. The distance causes stress in Mia and Sebastian’s relationship, and the couple must confront the harsh realities of their situation. Do they give up their dreams for domestic peace? It’s a troupe in Hollywood golden era musicals, but it plays well in the hands of these gifted actors and filmmakers.
I defy you to not get swept away in this modern-day melding of A Star is Born, Casablanca, A Rebel Without a Cause, and Bob Fosse pictures. The superb cinematography is nearly overshadowed by the exquisite production design, or the precision and execution of vision by director Damien Chazelle, or the hum worthy tunes, or the impressive dance choreography. I could literally mention every department and the high level of skill and craftsmanship that went into this film. La La Land is a stunningly good throwback overflowing with creativity, emotion, and all of the best qualities that made those post-WWII musicals classics.
Director: Damien Chazelle
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend