‘La La Land’ Review: Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone Dance Their Way To Brilliance

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Whiplash director, Damien Chazelle, creates a gripping story about two passionate people trying to succeed

Everyone has those dreams and that passion that drives us to achieve them. Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) inspires those dreamers to do what you love even if at first it seems impossible. It’s no surprise that La La Land is both funny and serious, happy and sad because the journey of achieving such dreams is undoubtedly going to be a long emotional ride.

Failed audition after failed audition, aspiring actress, Mia (Emma Stone) is left with a life she wishes she could escape. When she meets jazz lover and pianist, Sebastien (Ryan Gosling), they both fall in love. Life seems to be going great. However, as they settle for gigs and jobs that do not reflect their dreams, the relationship between them start to crumble. Their passion that once brought them together is now tearing them apart.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are perfect as the passionate couple. Both have the look of classic Hollywood while still being able to portray a very modern couple. Stone is the better shining star in this story. Her charisma and friendly nature make her a character that the audience can quickly fall in love with.

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Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have that great classic Hollywood aesthetic

Along with Stone and Gosling, John Legend, Rosemary DeWitt, and Callie Hernandez sing in La La Land‘s various musical numbers. The songs are not the problem, they are fantastic and placed at just the right moments. When compared to the other singers, Stone and Gosling reveals their lack of vocal skills. When John Legend sings his song, it’s not hard to hear the huge difference it makes. Not that Stone and Gosling don’t pull it off, but in a movie filled with great singers, their mediocre vocals are more apparent. Nevertheless, the songs are vibrant, and I even found myself tapping foot at the beginning.

Set in a beautiful Los Angeles, Chazelle continually takes jabs at the bittersweet California city. Gosling playing in a restaurant while nobody is listening is just one of the many hits. Contrasting these punches, cinematographer, Linus Sandgren (Joy, American Hustle) captures some gorgeous shots. Playing with different color lighting, La La Land becomes the dream that the characters are aspiring for. Everything from the dancing to the colors feels like a daydream and it is perfect for a movie about passion and goals.

To achieve a dreamy nature, one must be a terrific craftsman. The trouble with musicals is that musical numbers should be placed at just the right moment. Missing one beat can result in a musical feeling forced. Fortunately, Chazelle never struggles with timing. The transitions to musical numbers are genuine and fun, an immense strength to have in this very genre.

Classic musical legends would be proud of what Damien Chazelle has created. Musical lovers are going to love this, and even non-musical fans can find something to love. There’s a sense of nostalgia both in the film’s aesthetic and the story without driving too much in the déja-vù territory. Playing more like a love letter to dreamers than to Los Angeles, La La Land finds the perfect note.

GRADE: A

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