Review: “La La Land”

Photo Courtesy of Lionsgate Films

Photo Courtesy of Lionsgate Films

The movie-musical is back, and it’s better than ever.

“La La Land” stars Emma Stone as an aspiring actress and Ryan Gosling as a struggling jazz pianist who fall in love in the wake of their continuous failures. This breathtaking film captures life in Los Angeles as it should be: illuminated with bright color, bouncing with music, and overflowing with love.

This all sounds pretty schmaltzy, but maybe that’s how it should be. The vibrancy of the film captures a simpler time in America and in fact, celebrates it. After a tumultuous 2016, maybe this is the film we need more than any other.

But aesthetics aside, “La La Land” will have your heart filled to brim with excitement, due mostly to the lead actors. Stone gives the best performance of her career as Mia, a young woman who wants nothing more than to make it on the big screen. She displays a wide range of emotion; she will make you gleefully smitten in some moments and absolutely heartbroken in others.

She also shows off her chops as a singer and dancer as well, the former being incredibly impressive. Her best number is “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” and it perfectly epitomizes her character, and anyone who has been caught up in a hopeless dream. Gosling also shows great range as a performer, but the film belongs to Stone.

Damien Chazelle is the writer/director, and had just come off great success with his first feature, “Whiplash.” He completely outdoes himself here. His precision with the camera and his ability to get two masterful performances out of his leads goes with saying. But even more so, he crafted a magical film by portraying a film using visual storytelling. Whatever love looks like, “La La Land” is that.

What makes the film so impressive as a musical, is that the songs themselves never overstay their welcome. They are used sparingly and always at the perfect moment. While you watch the musical numbers in awe (especially the gorgeous opening), you fall in love with the film because of its colorful characters and brilliant storytelling.

Watching these characters fall in love made my heart swell up like a balloon. The chemistry between Stone and Gosling was genuine, and it gave me hope that true love does exist.

It’s also a very visually pleasing film. The production design gives off a nostalgic vibe, and the colorful costumes are also impressive.

From top to bottom, this film is flawless. The characters, the direction, the music and the pageantry will keep you sucked into this world for the two hour runtime. But more than anything, this film is an ode to dreamers. For anyone who has risked everything to pursue a hapless dream, go see this movie. You won’t regret it.