Against all odds, Damien Chazelle has made a contemporary musical.
‘La La Land’ is a wonderful piece of pop escapism. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are ‘the Girl’ and ‘the Boy’ in this meet cute about a wannabe actress and a stubborn jazz musician and their desires to make it big in the City of Angels. Starting with a top notch opening sequence, the mood is set for a film Hollywood stopped making (in earnest) decades ago.
Ryan Gosling is solid as usual. I’m having a little Casey Affleck deja vu here in that I liked Ryan more in other movies (‘Drive’ and ‘Blue Valentine’ immediately come to mind) but he certainly holds up his end of the movie.
The real treat here is Emma Stone. ‘Birdman’ was fine, but this is her real graduation from ‘girl next door’ roles to potentially her generation’s Diane Keaton. At parts goofy, at parts romantic, with enough singing and sympathy to play a fleshed out character. It’s a joy to watch someone get to play so many different ‘notes’ within one movie.
The cinematography is beautiful with enough glimpses of classic L.A. locations (Griffith and Santa Monica) I might have to go back and see it in IMAX. I was pleasantly surprised at how cynical the movie is. Don’t worry, it’s a musical, it’s not a downer, but there are prices to be paid to get to your dreams.
Definitely the crowd pleasing award contender this year. Recommend.