It’s been 14 years since a musical has won the top prize at the Academy Awards and La La Land is vying to end that streak with this enchanting tale of love in the City of Angels. Director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) returns hungry for Oscar gold and brings with him a powerfully memorizing cast with catchy songs and a beautifully crafted story that will transport you out of the uncertainty of the real world and into a reality of hope and creativity where dreams are within the grasp of the dreamer and the skies the limit for the few that chose to believe. Transport yourself to La La Land.
Mia (Emma Stone) is an on-studio barista and aspiring actress looking for her big break. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a pianist who sees the world closing in around him to suffocate the one thing he loves above all, Jazz. Chance has crossed their paths on several occasions, but for Sebastian, his focus of his perfect future sees right through what’s facing his present. But chance won’t be denied. The two meet again with each doing their best to dismiss the obvious, that there is clearly chemistry between them. One day, Sebastian finds Mia at work and, after a declaration of her dislike for jazz, decides to take her to a jazz bar. He opens up to Mia about his passion for jazz and his aspirations of running his own jazz bar, they discuss Mia’s trials and tribulations of being an actress and Sebastian helps reinforce her passion for her craft. The two face the inevitable truth that the future is brighter with each one beside the other.
Mia decides to write a personal single-actress play, “So Long, Boulder City,” hoping it will propel her to stardom, and Sebastian becomes a keyboardist in his jazz band, The Messengers, with long time friend Keith (John Legend), which takes him on tour and away from Mia. Facing the inevitability of change, the star crossed lovers tackle their new projects head on. As they forge on to keep their love alive, Mia faces a hard road that has her question the choices she’s made and looks to change her future. Sebastian’s future plans have altered now because of the bands success and in the process, they find themselves on different paths. Now is it the dreamers, coming full circle to face the truth about their choices, or do they have one final act in which to create their happy ending?
La La Land is nothing short of extraordinary. A timeless tale of love and aspiration of two lovers facing the hard realities of life. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are the perfect pair to bring Mia and Sebastian to life. Having worked together before as a couple on screen, the trust that each other has in the abilities of the other to bring out the best in their performances creates beautifully crafted emotional scenes and moments of pure joy. Unlike many musicals before, the choreography by Mandy Moore and the music of Justin Hurwitz are never overpowering and act only as a compliment to the surrounding story. The cinematography by Linus Sandgren is bright and vibrant and director Damien Chazelle’s vision culminated in a movie that will be cherished for generations to come.
Overall, La La Land is destined to compete for best picture during award season and rightfully so. It’s a film destined to steal your heart and yearn for a time when you dreamed an impossible dream. Be sure to leave the real world at the door and allow yourself the pleasure of this treasure.
4 1/2 out of 5
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