pretentious jazz musician with dreams of owning his own club. When their worlds collide it is an explosion of romance, music and dance, and promises a nostalgic trip to a forgotten genre.
The film opens with a stunning musical sequence set upon a freeway overpass. The camera glides from one car to another, up and over the roofs and alongside the windows as the passengers break free of the gridlock in an elaborate song & dance number that, from all appearances, is shot in one endless take. Its a phenomenal demonstration of cinematography and an example of competent filmmaking. Damien Chazelle also wrote the film and his vision was clearly strong. The romance he has created is anchored right at the epicentre of Hollywood's studio system, with the story doubling as a tongue-in-cheek critisism of an industry that chews people up and spits them out. "La La Land" in deed.
Stone and Gosling share a wonderful chemistry, which has been developed across their previous two films together (Gangster Squad and Crazy Stupid Love), and their connection on screen is undeniable. And as if they weren't already accomplished actors, they've managed to execute the song & dance factor beautifully. They carry a level of distinction with them that recalls the legends of old Hollywood such as Gene Kelly and Judy Garland. Stone offers an particularly engaging performance that truly sets the film apart and gives it a strong emotional actor. Her ability emote such emotion so effortlessly elevates her above many of her contemporaries, and SHOULD put her in good stead for award accolades.
Where the film frays is in its modern city setting. The presence of smart-phones and other tech devises sully what is an otherwise splendid narrative. Of course I concede that there is amusement to be had by interrupting a bold musical sequence with the ring of a cell-phone, but those are laughs I would much rather suspend in favour of a totally cohesive atmosphere.
But alas... small qualms. LA LA LAND is lovely. It's a rare commodity amongst an all but dead form of storytelling. It's musical emphasis won't be for everyone, but I sure as hell am better for having seen it and I cannot wait to see it again.