An ode to Hollywood (old and new), La La Land is a Disney-style musical fairy tale! It is easily one of my favourite movies from the 21st century!
Damien Chazelle is a director that I will keep an eye on! He surprised the world with Whiplash in 2014, and now, he showed us that he is a lot more than a one-hit-wonder! As a director and screen-writer with musical inclinations, he is an auteur in this generation! Chazelle's struggles to make La La Land over the last decade have been well documented. I don't blame the studios though - investing (and having faith) in a jazz musical is not the easiest decision to make!
The film opens with a five-minute musical number on a jammed Los Angeles highway! It is not homogenous with the rest of the movie, but sets the tone for what to expect. The first number was filmed without a cut (or maybe one or two very smart cuts) with some of the most sophisticated camera movements. The music and choreography were of course the cherries on top! Then, we get to meet the main characters played beautifully by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Anyone who has seen Crazy Stupid Love and Gangster Squad already knows the chemistry that these two have(*). Gosling's character is a jazz pianist, and Stone plays an aspiring actress. The only minor complaint that I had was with Gosling's singing, as he is not the best at carrying a tune. But now I think it's okay. He is the pianist who sings only in private. He doesn't need to carry tunes like a professional such as John Legend (who also stars in the movie).
(*) Gosling and Stone are the new golden couple of Hollywood - very much like Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, or Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers!
The music is mesmerizing - as was expected by fans of Whiplash (2014). The choreography and cinematography are also fantastic. But the most important component is the story. It is easy for a musical fairy tale to fall victim to clichès. La La Land, however, has a brilliant story that is simply perfect in my opinion. The message of the movie is that "dreams can come true, but you must be willing to pay the price".
I looked at my watch a couple of times while I was watching La La Land - not because I wanted it to end soon, but for wanting it to last longer! I am of course a fan of this genre, but I'm sure even non-fans would enjoy it - the ratings are evidence to this claim!
If it is not already obvious by all this praise, this was a 10/10 for me!