“Here’s to the fools that dream.” That is the theme of this comedy, drama… musical. Yes. This is a musical but I would like to ask that you don’t fear the musical! It’s not in the style of “Cats” or the like so be willing to go. If you love a good story and a good film that’s well done in almost every way possible… don’t worry. You’ll love this movie! Now, on to the review. I can’t remember the last time we saw this but with “La La Land” we have a musical for the big screen that’s not based on a hit Broadway show! “La La Land” stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as an aspiring actress and jazz pianist, respectively, who fall in love. Both have dreams very different from the other but the desire and ambition they see in one another, calls out to each other and attracts them even more. The music and the romance at the heart of this story are alluring and will tantalize you, and the love… you will feel it. In fact, it’s hard to believe Gosling and Stone aren’t a real couple.
To shed some light on where this came from, here’s a bit about the writer/director. Damien Chazelle, is only thirty-one yet has accomplished so much. Not only did he write and direct, “La La Land”, which is a very unique to these times piece, but he also wrote “Whiplash” and “10 Cloverfield Lane.” J.K. Simmons won the Oscar for his performance in “Whiplash” so for Chazelle, after graduating Harvard, the Oscar win for Simmons is yet another feather for him to add to his cap; a cap that may be riddled with feathers really soon. I’m looking very forward to his next project but let’s get back to this one.
The love story is classic in that it starts out as anything but and becomes two people crazy about one another but Chazelle gives us, ultimately, what feels and looks real because not only is there a bond between the two with all the hopes they share freely but their chemistry is palpable. Great job casting these two as Sebastian and Mia. Another thing that gives the audience a connection is this; when have we not all desired something so greatly that we’d give up almost for it? These two beautiful creatures love their goals as they do one another but the vital and fundamental question here becomes, would you give one of them up for the other?
As far as dancing, I’ll admit that they aren’t Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but the choreography doesn’t ask too much of them and they handle themselves gracefully. The footwork is impressive and they’re cute together; she not as polished as he but it works.
Regarding musical taste Mia tells Sebastian that she doesn’t like jazz, his true love, and he takes it upon himself to show her that she doesn’t understand the complexity of it; that you can’t just hear it, you have to feel it by watching someone play. He wants Mia to see its conflict and get excited because it needs help… ‘It’s dying’ he fears. Well, he does until his friend, Keith (Legend), explains to him that Jazz is about the future, not the past. Sebastian has always held onto what Jazz has always been and here, he discovers a bit about himself as well as what pushes him… that things change. He decides to tour with Keith and Mia learns quickly that tours aren’t overnight. She realizes dreams of becoming an actress aren’t either. Maybe it’s time to move on?
I’ll leave it there. You need to go and experience “La La Land” to find out what happens. Visually, the film beguiles but it’s not perfect. You’re not going to hear their songs on the radio, however, the opening song, “Another Day of Sun” and the score won’t soon be forgotten, nor will Sebastian singing “City of Stars”… okay, the music is amazing. Oscar will be nice to them. The dance numbers can be a little clunky but overall the film is pretty extraordinary; sweet and innocent. As much as it is a musical, it often feels like a play, which was another aspect that I adored. You’ll never get bored and the final act will whisk you away to another place, and in today’s world, we need a little of that. Comedies and Musicals don’t usually win Oscar gold for Best Picture but it wouldn’t surprise me if Chazelle’s effort pays off with a few statues. If it walks away empty handed, it’ll be a travesty.