When “La La Land” was released in December, critics praised the film’s “greatness,” dubbing Damien Chazelle’s colorful musical a “masterpiece.” This is because “La La Land” is revolutionary for today’s day and age. While creating the film, Chazelle envisioned directing an “old musical,” but setting it in a place where “things do not always work out.”
The film revolves around artists. Ryan Gosling plays Sebastian Wilder, a prodigal jazz pianist who is disillusioned at the fact that “jazz is dying” and hopes to resurrect it by building his own jazz club. The charming Emma Stone plays Mia Dolan, a struggling actress who makes a career out of auditioning and is frustrated at not finding work in the exhausting city of Los Angeles.
Both are dreamers and they form a mutual attraction out of admiring each other’s dreams, but their plans to stay together goes awry after Sebastian finds an opportunity that diverts him from building a club. Mia finds herself torn between her guy and chasing after her own goals.
“La La Land” is magical for several reasons: The musical numbers are classic ‘50s tunes, so Stone and Gosling learned to tap and ballroom in a style that resembles the great Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, and Gene Kelly. The film is a love letter to the city of Los Angeles with much of the filming taking place at the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Hills, and Grand Central Market.
“La La Land” is memorable for its nostalgia. The film pays homage to the the past; the score and the music alludes to classic jazz, but Chazelle keeps the musical modern by setting it in present-day Hollywood.
Gosling and Stone’s acting is superb. Both have an on-screen chemistry that is magnetic. Their singing and dancing is not spot-on, but choreographer Mandy Moore focused on making them look like “real people” rather than the best dancers. There is a noticeable lack of narrative in the film, most likely because Chazelle focused on the visuals of the film, which is understandable considering the complexity that went into filming “La La Land.”
Indeed, audience members feel like they are stepping into a fantasy when they watch “La La Land,” which fulfills why we all love movies like these; they give us the escape we need from the grind of everyday life. They remind us that a life of dreams might be hard, but a life without dreaming would just be mourning. For that reason and so many more, “La La Land” is one of the best movies of 2016 and is a surefire contender for the 2017 Oscars.
What did you think of “La La Land”? Was it one of the best movies of 2016? Comment below, or find me on Twitter @issabasco