La La Land - Review
La La Land is a movie that affected me very deeply, which is part of the reason I have waited this long to review this masterpiece. I have currently seen it five times in theaters.
La La Land is for dreamers. That's what most of the promotions and stars have told us to believe. For a film that focuses so much on the dreamlike aspect of love, it tells a surprisingly real story of two people who fall in and out of love. One moment Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are floating around a planetarium before an overly dramatic close up glamorizes their first kiss, the next they are having a difficult conversation about how their jobs are tearing them away from each other. It is this balance of expectation versus reality that makes La La Land so good. It provides something for people to dream about, as well as relates to the real world and its non-dreamlike scenarios.
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone were made to act together in this film. They perform nearly as one for the entirety of the film, forcing the actors to have excellent chemistry and the ability to bounce off of each other. Emma Stone is the highlight, as she is on screen for nearly the whole film. We learn the most about her ambitious upbringing, and the startling reality she faces after several years of living in Hollywood: fame is not easy. Stone, who has been noticeably absent from a dramatic role (Birdman is the most recent I can think of) slips right back into the groove, bringing a sense of experienced Hollywood glamour to the role that wouldn't have been there had she been younger in her career. Gosling is superb as Sebastian, the man who loves Jazz. His character is at once cool, and completely relatable through the questionable choices he makes throughout the film. His character's obsession with Jazz music sets the film apart from other excellent music films of this year (Sing Street) by making it feel like a much older movie. The soundtrack is all centered around Jazz instruments, making for a refreshing take on the usual musical formula.
La La Land is by far the prettiest film of 2016. Every unique shot has something new to offer, like a bright color, a colorful group of extras, or a hilariously accurate conversation between two people who do not want to be together. La La Land's soundtrack is its big win, with the musical talents of Justin Hurwitz on full display. Hurwitz incorporates swelling crescendos to go along with the major romantic moments, and carefully crafts gorgeous piano melodies to go along with the quieter moments. The promotional single from the soundtrack, "City of Stars", is the major highlight, which Hurwitz incorporates into the film in several creative ways, without ever becoming stale.
La La Land is a film for dreamers, with a surprisingly real love story at the center. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling's acting paired with Justin Hurwitz's incredible music combine to create the most memorable film of 2016, one that deserves all the accolades it is receiving.
Pros - Stone & Gosling's acting, Incredible Music, Old Hollywood Aesthetic